Crusty chicken-chaser

 

 

July 2009

Can you identify this strange animal?

Do you have any idea what this strange animal is? It looked like a cross between a dog and a cat and had an unusual tail like a kangaroo.

 

Answer

An inquirer from Mt Tamborine, Queensland reported an unusual predator after hearing a commotion amongst the chickens in her garden one morning. She captured the culprit on her camera.

The chicken-chaser is a Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes that is suffering from severe Sarcoptic mange.

Sarcoptic mange is caused by the tiny scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. These mites burrow in the surface of the skin. Severe cases result in shedding of fur and are often associated with infections that can leave the skin leathery and corrugated.

Animals suffering this condition have been variously reported as Thylacines (believed to be extinct), dog/cat hybrids, leopards and pumas. Foxes suffering from severe mange are probably responsible for the bulk of Queensland "Thylacine" sightings.

Sarcoptes scabiei, the mite species that causes Sarcoptic mange in animals, is a species that originally infested humans but has now "spilled over" onto many species of domestic and wild populations throughout the world. Apart from foxes, animals that sometimes suffer severe Sarcoptic mange include wombats, dingos and dogs. Mange can also be caused by other species of mites.

 The mangy fox runs for cover Fox with normal bushy tail

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