Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mangey cheetah

Most visitors to the Mara put cheetahs near the top of the list of animals they would like to see. A few visitors are lucky enough to actually see a cheetah or two. Unfortunately, many of the cheetahs in the park are infected with mange. This is a skin disease caused by mites. The mites are passed from animal to animal through direct contact.

Cheetahs are solitary animals and are rarely seen together, unless it is with siblings or their mother. Given the solitary lifestyle of cheetahs and the low density of cheetahs in the Mara (it is estimated there are around 50 cheetahs here), it seems unlikely they would have high enough contact rates to maintain a high prevalence of mange. Domestic dogs that are frequently in the park may play in a role in the spread and maintenance of mange in the wild animals in the park. Mange is also seen in other animals such as buffalo, but to my knowledge, few thorough studies have been done at this point.

Special thanks to Linda Mansfield for her input on mites and mange!


Dana said...

I sure pray that this outbreak of mange can be put under control. The Mara recently lost three cheetah's which were infected. Hopefully the Mara will get a full-time Vet out there to treat others that become infected.

Katy said...

And Audrey thought I was "mange-crazy" thinking every cheetah was infected with mange. They really were!

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science