Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Backyard B&B For Wildlife

This is a bittersweet story sent to me by my good friend Brownlee. She had long had groundhogs living under her patio deck, but recently noticed some new and different tracks in the snow.
Turned out a pair of foxes had decided the underside of the deck would make a fine "bed and breakfast."

Looked like a fine arrangement for all, except the groundhogs, but Brownlee started noticing signs of mange on one of the foxes. A call to Princeton's animal control officer led to trapping the fox and taking it to the Mercer County Wildlife Center, where it unfortunately could not be saved. The other fox will be trapped this week, and hopefully is healthy enough to respond to treatment. According to Brownlee, the mange-causing mites die off after a month without a host, allowing the treated fox to be returned to the same location. As one could guess, the loss of fur due to mange can be especially hard on wild animals in the winter.

Some informative websites on mange, which includes various species of mites that afflict a wide range of animals, can be found here and here. Thanks to Brownlee for the photos.

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