A BRIEF ENCOUNTER
I met this inquisitive little fella at Broughton Vale on an early morning bike ride. These marsupials can run up to 40km/hr and fences don’t bother them. They either push through or burrow underneath.
Of course it’s unusual to see wombats in daylight and it may be a sign of early mange which can further reduce their poor eyesight until they are blind. Mange is not a disease but an infestation of the mange mite. The female mites burrow under the skin where they deposit eggs, these hatch and cause intense discomfort. Over time thick plaques that look like scabs and ridges form over the wombats body. These scabs become dry and split open, the wounds can then become flyblown and infected.
The plight of wombats with mange has been an ongoing concern for many years and is an animal welfare issue. Unless treated, the infestation progresses and eventually the wombat is so severely compromised it dies a slow and agonising death.
It is not known exactly where mange came from. It may have been introduced by early settlers as scabies or during settlement with the introduction of foxes and domestic dogs. What we do know is, it has spread throughout our wombat population, affecting the bare nosed wombat in particular.