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Wombats Under Threat From Parasitic Disease

One of Australia’s most iconic marsupials, wombats are unfortunately threatened by a parasitic disease. Known as sarcoptic mange, this disease is estimated to be present in 90% of wombat populations. Thankfully a new treatment has been approved that offers hope in controlling sarcoptic mange in wild wombat populations.

We sat down with Kristie Newton, the Programs Manager of WIRES Australia, to discuss how this is affecting wombats, and what is being done to help them. Kristie explains that due to their preferred habitats wombats are highly susceptible to the disease, which is caused by parasitic mites.

“They just affect them so badly because they love the temperature and the conditions of wombats burrows. So they can actually live in the soil, in the burrow walls for about three weeks without even a live host.”

Kristie goes onto explain that one of the major difficulties in treating the disease is due to the fact that wombats aren’t brought into care, but rather are treated in the wild.

“Even though we only need a few treatments, it’s still really actually quite difficult to treat them. We don’t bring them into care, we actually treat them out in the wild.

So we’re relying on volunteers going out and traipsing through the wilderness to try and locate burrows and these animals. And they have to actually get that treatment directly onto their back, which is very difficult, or to actually treat their burrows.”

Photo by Michael Jerrard on Unsplash