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Mange in Fox and Coyote

Sarcoptic mange is probably the biggest killer of red foxes and coyotes in New Jersey. It is a highly contagious disease and can be easily spread. It is caused by an infestation of Sarcoptes scabiei canis, a burrowing mite, causing intense itching from an allergic reaction to the mite and resulting in hair loss. Secondary skin infection is also common.

The season of the year and weather conditions can influence how readily afflicted animals may succumb to the disease. If the animals have mange in the winter they typically do not (or rarely) survive. In late spring or summer they can survive the infection, and some might even improve if their immune system is not too compromised.

All red foxes and coyotes may have a few of the mange mites on their body, but the weak and stressed animals (young, old, injured, etc.) are the most susceptible. The mites are spread through contact with sites (dens, etc.) where the mites are present or through contact with infected animals (other coyotes or foxes). In that sense, itís a "social" disease. Although a healthy animal, well fed and non-stressed, may have the mites present on their body, their immune system fights off and overcomes any problems.

Gray foxes donít have a problem with mange. Domestic dogs can get mange by contact with an infected animal but are of course easily treated. Treatment of wild animals is difficult and not advised.

Coyote with mange in parking lot
Coyote with mange - note condition of normally bushy tail
Click to enlarge

If an infected animal is observed acting sickly contact your local animal control officers, police, or the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Wildlife Control Unit or the DEP Hotline (877-WARN-DEP).

Foxes in New Jersey
Coyotes in New Jersey

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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: June 12, 2012