The photos below were taken at Wombolly or on properties nearby. Unfortunately some of these iconic animals are being infected by mange caused by infestations of the sarcoptes scabei mite. This is affecting wombat populations throughout Australia and some say that the species' long term existence is in doubt. Treatment is available (see information below) and is helping many wombats living at and near Wombolly. Click on images below to enlarge.
Many people and organisations (often voluntary and with little funding) have been working hard to help Australia's wombats. Here are some facts to help understand the problem and why help is needed.
Wombats have no immunity to the mange mite which suggests it was introduced to them maybe by the fox. If left untreated, the mange causes the wombat to suffer a slow and painful death. The female mite tunnels into the skin of the wombat and lays its eggs below the surface. This causes discomfort and makes the wombat consistently scratch itself. Over time thick scabs form over the animal's body, the skin is drawn together - cracks can become flyblown and infected. The wombat's hair falls out and it is unable to see properly when the area around the eyes becomes affected.
Treatment to kill the mites can vary according to the severity of the mange and the age of the wombat. Sadly, none of the treatments currently available will stop the wombat getting another infestation, but once the mites are removed they have a pretty good chance of recovery.
Treatment involves veterinary injections (if wombat can be taken into care) or administering various pours (for animals in the wild). If you are able to get close to the wombat (this is often the case with a sick animal) a syringe without the needle can be used to squirt a dose onto the skin. A dose can also be administered using a simple device hung at the entrance to the wombat's burrow to ensure continued treatment for recovering or unaffected wombats.
For more information you can visit the site of our local hard working Wombat Rescue and Wildlife Refuge owners, Roz and Kevin Holme, at www.cedarcreekwombatrescue.com