Notoedric mange seems to be an increasing problem for bobcats in several places in California. Notoedric mange is a parasitic mite that burrows in the skin of the animal it infests where it lives and reproduces. If enough mites are present, the infected animal will lose hair in infected areas and even have a hypersensitivity reaction and thickened, gray appearing skin. We have observed animals to die in a very emaciated state covered in notoedric mange. We believe the deaths are related to the mange infection. One reason the animals may be so emaciated when they have the disease is because there can be a high energetic cost associated with their body's attempt to control the infection. They may also have more difficulty hunting as the disease progresses.
In Southern California, National Park Service biologists were the first to document an outbreak of the disease in a local bobcat population within Thousand Oaks, CA. Once the outbreak occurred, the survival rate for the population dropped from near 80% to 26%. During the course of the epidemic, more than 50% of the radiocollared bobcats in the study area died of notoedric mange. Increasingly, cases are being reported in other areas across California, and here are some pictures we've gathered to show how the disease affects the animals.