The European wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a keystone species in the Iberian Mediterranean ecosystems being the staple prey of protected and endangered predators. Wild rabbits were once widespread, but the introduction of two viral diseases, myxomatosis in the 1950s and the rabbit hemorrhagic disease in 1989, resulted into a dramatic decline of its populations. Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious parasitic infection caused by Sarcoptes scabiei. The first cases of sarcoptic mange in a wild rabbit population are recorded from a hunting area in Majorca (Balearic Islands, Spain). Five of 32 inspected rabbits (14.7%) were affected, with similar prevalences in summer and autumn. Sarcoptes scabiei were obtained from the edge of the lesions of two of the rabbits. The most frequently observed lesions were small areas of alopecia and crusts in the limbs. Affected limbs presented also a marked hypertrichosis and an apparent abnormal growth of the nails. One rabbit also presented lesions around mouth and nostrils. Parasitized rabbits were in significant lower body condition than healthy ones. According to previous reports of mange epizooties in other naïve wild species that caused marked short-term effects in their populations, this disease may pose a risk for the conservation of wild rabbit and their predators. Whether mange is endemic in rabbits from Majorca or it has been introduced is unknown. Game managers are encouraged to be aware of introducing sarcoptic mange during rabbit translocations.
Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus
- Ecología, evolución, comportamiento y sistemática
- Gestión, supervisión, políticas y leyes
- Conservación de la naturaleza y el paisaje