There's been a spate of posts about foxes with mange on the Norwich list, to the annoyance of some and alarm of others. But they keep coming. The most recent, in the digest today, noted two foxes with mange seen on Tuesday around Needham and Turnpike roads.
It left me curious to know more, and I found what I think is good information on the Humane Society of the United States website.
First, as list posters have noted, mange is not the same as rabies. Nor is it unusual to see foxes during the day.
A fox with mange and a fox with rabies may exhibit some behavior in common: a seeming lack of fear, or self-mutilation. Rabies is very rare, but a fox that has it may also exhibit aggressive behavior without reason, paralysis in one or more limbs, or wandering as if drunk.
Mange is the work of parasitic mites that cause patchy to total hair loss.
"The disease causes intense irritation of the skin to the point where foxes have been known to chew their own tails off trying to relieve the itching," the Humane Society site says. "... Mange-afflicted animals try to maintain their body temperature seeking any warm places they can find. Death may arise from a wide variety of causes, including starvation and hypothermia."
Being humane (!), the website notes that mange can be treated and recommends contacting a wildlife rehabilitator. The link it provides to Vermont resources is broken, but the one to New Hampshire resources works.
I've got a call in to the Norwich PD to ask what they'd advise callers, and will update this post when I hear back.