Skip to main content

First description of sarcoptic mange in wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  • Angulo E, Villafuerte R (2003) Modelling hunting strategies for the conservation of wild rabbit populations. Biol Conserv 115:291–301

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blanco JC, Villafuerte R (1993) Factores ecológicos que influyen sobre las poblaciones de conejos. Incidencia de la enfermedad hemorrágica. Technical report. Empresa de Transformación Agraria, S.A., Madrid

  • Calvete C, Estrada R, Villafuerte R, Lucientes J, Osácar JJ (2002) Epidemiology of viral hemorrhagic disease (VHD) and myxomatosis in the wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in the mid-Ebro Valley, Spain. Vet Rec 150:776–782

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Delibes M, Hiraldo F (1981) The rabbit as prey in the Iberian Mediterranean ecosystem. In: Myers K, MacInnes CD (eds) Proceedings of the I world lagomorph conference. University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, pp 614–622

    Google Scholar 

  • Delibes-Mateos M, Redpath SM, Angulo E, Ferreras P, Villafuerte R (2007) Rabbits as a keystone species in southern Europe. Biol Conserv 137:149–156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fandos P (1991) La cabra montés (Capra pyrenaica) en el Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas. Instituto Nacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza/Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Agrarias, Madrid

  • Fernández-Morán J, Gómez S, Ballesteros F, Quirós P, Benito JL, Feliu C, Nieto JM (1997) Epizootiology of sarcoptic mange in a population of cantabrian chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica parva) in northwestern Spain. Vet Parasitol 15:163–171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • González-Candela M, León-Vizcaíno L, Cubero-Pablo MJ (2004) Population effects of sarcoptic mange in Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) from Sierra Espuña Regional Park, Spain. J Wildl Dis 40:456–465

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gortazar C, Villafuerte R, Blanco JC, Fernández-de-Luco D (1998) Enzootic sarcoptic mange in red foxes in Spain. Z Jagdwiss 44:251–256

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holt G, Berg C (1990) Sarcoptic mange in red fox and other wild carnivores in Norway. Norsk Vet Tidsskrift 102:427–432

    Google Scholar 

  • Kurtdede A, Karaer Z, Acar A, Guzel M, Cingi CC, Ural K, Ica A (2007) Use of selamectin for the treatment of psoroptic and sarcoptic mite infestation in rabbits. Vet Dermatol 18:18–22

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • León-Vizcaíno L, Ruíz de Ybáñez MR, Cubero MJ, Ortíz JM, Espinosa J, Pérez L, Simón MA, Alonso F (1999) Sarcoptic mange in Spanish ibex from Spain. J Wildl Dis 35:647–659

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Moreno S, Villafuerte R, Cabezas S, Lombardi L (2004) Wild rabbit restocking for predator conservation in Spain. Biol Conserv 118:183–193

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mörner T (1992) Sarcoptic mange in Swedish wildlife. Rev Sci Tech Off Int Epizoot 11:1115–1121

    Google Scholar 

  • Oleaga A, Balseiro A, Gortazar C (2008a) Sarcoptic mange in two roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) from Northern Spain. Eur J Wildl Res 54:134–137

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oleaga A, Casais R, González-Quirós P, Prieto M, Gortázar C (2008b) Sarcoptic mange in red deer from Spain: improved surveillance or disease emergence? Vet Parasitol 154:103–113

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pence DB, Ueckermann E (2002) Sarcoptic mange in wildlife. Rev Sci Tech Off Int Epizoot 21:385–398

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Rosell JM, Dronda MA, de la Fuente LF (2000) Dermatología. In: Rosell JM (ed) Enfermedades del conejo, Tomo II. Ediciones Mundi-Prensa, Madrid-Barcelona-México

  • Skerratt LF, Martin RW, Handasyde KA (1998) Sarcoptic mange in wombats. Aust Vet J 76:408–410

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Villafuerte R, Calvete C, Blanco JC, Lucientes J (1995) Incidence of viral hemorrhagic disease in wild rabbit populations in Spain. Mammalia 59:651–659

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Voyvoda H, Ulutas B, Eren H, Karagenc T, Bayramli G (2005) Use of doramectin for treatment of sarcoptic mange in five Angora rabbits. Vet Dermatol 16:285–288

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


I wish to thank A. Barceló and the S’Horta Hunters Association, B. Seguí (Conselleria de Medi Ambient, Balearic Islands Government), and J. M. Prieto and R. Casais (SERIDA, Asturias) for their advice. This work was funded by Conselleria de Medi Ambient, Govern de les Illes Balears (contract No. 5893/2008).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Javier Millán.

Additional information

Communicated by W. Lutz

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Millán, J. First description of sarcoptic mange in wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Eur J Wildl Res 56, 455–457 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Lagomorphs
  • Oryctolagus cuniculus
  • Sarcoptic mange
  • Sarcoptes scabiei