Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fox Returns Sick with Mange

I am starting this new post, with photos previous posted. If you prefer not to see a seriously ill fox, go no further than these first five photos.
I am writing this posting for two reasons. First, I think that it is appropriate to show that life for the animals in the Colvin Ron Habitat can be tough.
Second, I believe that this is an opportunity for wildlife education. Specifically, to discuss a fox infected with mange versus a fox with rabies.
These photos show a 120-day progression. In early October, this fox appeared healthy. In fact, I commented in a post that he looked healthy. By mid-November, even though he appeared to look (to me) healthy, he was beginning to stop and scratch himself. A sign of possible mange.
Here are three photos from the last week in January. Clearly, he is ill and in bad shape. I included the last photo to show his face as a comparison with the photos from October and November - this is the same fox. In the last photo, he did not stop and turn around to look at me - rather he stopped to bit at his shoulder.
After taking these photos, I again turned to the Web seeking an explanation. I would like to thank the National Fox Welfare Society for their photos of foxes with mange.
I would also like to thank the Wild Bunch Rehabilitation folks for their exaplanation of mange. Please visit their site. In fact, their information is so useful that I am repeating it below. Remember, you should not be approaching animals in the wild. Contact a local wildlife relief agency in you area.

Help! There's a fox outside during the day. What do I do?

Do you observe any of these behaviors?
>It is scratching, chewing or licking its skin.
>It has open sores or wounds.
>It has a bare tail, squinty eyes and/or a crusty film over mouth, eyes and nose.
>It moves slowly and often lies in one place for a long period of time.
>It appears thin, ragged and malnourished.
>It walks very slowly with stiff movements of hind legs.
>It is searching for food in daylight and close to humans and does not seem afraid.

Fact and Fiction about Foxes with Mange:
It is very common for individuals to believe that if they see a fox near their homes, looking or acting sick, that it must have rabies. 99% of the time this is not the case. The animal most likely is suffering from mange; a debilitating condition that causes severe scratching, open sores and loss of hair. The good news is that it is easily treatable.

Information to help you understand an animal with mange
>A fox with mange is very weak from an inability to hunt for food.
>They are tired and suffering from constant itching and burning sensations.
>Because they must eat they will venture close to homes looking for food. Pet food that is left outside is a frequent choice.
>The fox will not attack cats, dogs or children. Even under normal circumstances it is not aggressive. It will react however, if trying to be captured.
>They do not want to take up residence in your area permanently. If treated and allowed to recover they will move on.

What can you do?

>Stay calm and remember you are not in an unsafe situation.
>Call the Wildlife Rescue League at 703-440-0800. You will be put into contact with someone that can give you more information to handle your situation.
>Don’t attempt to capture the animal.
>Provide food and water for the animal - preferably in a safe quiet area.
>If being treated for mange, allow the fox to rest and heal in a place where you can monitor progress.
>Keep information available for neighbors that have questions or concerns.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mid-Winter in the Colvin Run Habitat

Two months since the last post - what can I say? A variety of other priorities.

In the last two months, I added a new camera to the Habitat tools. A month after receiving it, I finally got the time to get it out of the box and take the inaugural photos. And here they are. A few of the signature cardinals, titmice, and a white-throated sparrow.
These chickadees clearly were upset when I got close to the bluebird house that the chickadees used last spring.
I took the photos of the chickadee and blue jays in flight by accident - the benefits of an extremely fast camera.

Of course, everyday you'll find a turkey vulture overhead.

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