We get tons of messages from people asking us for advice on treating wild animals with mange. It’s wonderful that so many people care! Mange is extremely common in wildlife, particularly foxes and coyotes, and rates have skyrocketed in recent years due to human causes. When left untreated, mange causes infections, starvation, hypothermia, and eventually death. It’s awful!
At least one wildlife rehabilitation organization offers a “mange by mail” program that sends potent medication for people to give to wildlife themselves. This program (and similar ones) may be an option if you have no other resources available in your area, but we don’t generally recommend treating wildlife yourself in any way.
The medications used to treat mange are ideally given based on the animal’s weight, and this is impossible to achieve without weighing the animal and giving it the medication directly. A dose intended for a coyote guesstimated to weigh 40 pounds could easily be fatal to the two-pound raccoon kit who takes the bait instead. There is no way to guarantee that medicated bait left outside will go to the correct animal.
In many cases, a dose or two of medication simply won’t be enough to save the animal, even if the correct critter eats the food. Animals with severe mange almost always have secondary infections, are underweight, and have trouble regulating their body temperatures. If a critter with a bad case of mange doesn’t get help with these problems, it may die even after the mange mites themselves are dead. It’s also important to note that the animal might immediately return to a mange-infested den if it isn’t brought elsewhere.
The best thing to do for a wild animal with severe mange is to contact your local wildlife rehabilitators and, if possible, humanely trap and transport the critter to the professionals who are equipped to care for it. If no rehabilitators in your area are treating patients with mange, this may complicate matters, but they will be able to advise you further on the next steps.