Wollondilly wildlife rescuers call for help to save wombats

Wollondilly is home to a diverse range of native animals, but wildlife rescuers say the humble wombat is in desperate need of a helping hand.

Mange is affecting the Macarthur region's wombat populations causing some of the iconic natives to die a 'slow and painful' death.

The skin condition is caused by a parasitic mite and leads to hair loss, itchy and crusty skin.

Mel and Mitch Peronis have been wildlife carers for several years and they hope raising awareness about the issue will save more of the region's wombats.

"Mange is always fatal in wombats if it is left untreated," Ms Peronis said.

"It is a slow, painful and horrible death.

"Wombats scratch at their itchy skin which can cause wounds that then become infected - in the worst causes the wounds become infested by maggots.

"But mange is treatable, we just need people's help to treat the affected wombats."

Mange is carried by other animals, including foxes, however, Ms Peronis said wombats struggle to fight the mite.

"Wombats have such a slow metabolism that it takes everything in them to try and fight it," the Belimbla Park resident said.

"They have to eat all the time just to try and fight the mange so often people see them out in daylight which is not normal for a wombat."

Wombats with mange have been spotted across the region, particularly in The Oaks and Orangeville areas.

Ms Peronis is encouraging locals who spot a wombat out during the day to report it to Sydney Wildlife or Wires.

"Some people think wombats with mange are just wombats covered in mud because of the way their skin looks when they have it," she said.

"With it getting colder, wombats with mange are more likely to come out during thee day while it is warm because they start to lose all their hair.

"So if you see a wombat out in the day, or acting strangely, please report it because you could help to save a life.

"We had a wombat reported to us six weeks ago because she was just sitting in someone's front yard during the day - however, it turned out she had pneumonia.

"And with treatment she is getting better."

Treating mange in wombats is a difficult and lengthy process.

Ms Peronis said it required locating the wombat and its burrows.

"We then need to use an extender pole, like you'd use to clean a pool, with a cup on the end to pour the medicine over them," she said.

"Depending on the wombat, they can be hard to track down. Sometimes they smell the medicine or hear us coming and take off.

"Once we locate the burrows we create burrow flaps that act as doors, so when the wombat wants to leave, they push on the door and it pours medicine on their backs.

"They have to be treated once a week for 16 weeks, so it is a really long process."

Ms Peronis said wombats played an important role in the shire's ecosystem.

"They are super important - they are little eco engineers," she said.

"They turn over dirt which keeps the bugs happy and that attracts birdlife which helps to spread native grasses and seeds.

"There is even a particular type of fly that only eats wombat poop - so they have their own special place in the eco-system.

"There is a lot of support out there for koalas which is great, but the wombat is often the poor cousin of koala.

"So we want to spread some empathy for these guys in the hopes that more people will report when they see a sick one, or when they see one hit by a car.

"Mange is treatable and we want to be able to do more to help the wombats who have it."

If you spot a wombat in need, contact Sydney Wildlife on: 9413 4300 or call Wires on: 1300 094 737.