Possum Spotting: Dermatitis

Wildlife Animal Welfare Animals Education Possums Rescue Posted Apr 17, 2023
If left untreated, Dermatitis can be deadly to our native brushtail possums. Here’s how to spot it.
Warning: this blog does contain some imagery of possums with dermatitis below.

Exudative Dermatitis is a skin disease that can affect our native brushtail possum populations. It can spread rapidly and be and quite severe in appearance - as we see all too often in our RSPCA Wildlife Hospitals.

Possums like this one below, can have severe ulcerations and fur loss. The cause of this disease can be due to stress and bacterial infections.  

dermatitis can be deadly for brushtail possums

What to look for

Early warning signs for possums that may have dermatitis include;

  • Small red patches on the possum’s body
  • Fur loss. 

If you spot a possum in your yard that may have signs of dermatitis, contact our 24/7 Animal Emergency Hotline, 1300 ANIMAL (264 625).

possum dermatitis is a skin condition affecting brushtail possums

Possum with early periocular lesions to look out for

Possum in RSPCA Qld Veterinary care with early periocular lesions - dermatitis

Dermatitis can also affect a possum’s limbs, this case of dermatitis is treatable too.

For severe cases, the only chance these possums have of survival is early detection and vet treatment. Possums can sometimes spontaneously recover in the wild from dermatitis.

Our RSPCA Animal Rescue team frequently come to the aid of possums with dermatitis. We’re glad to say that this one below was caught early enough and treatment was successful!

After receiving veterinary treatment for dermatitis on his face, feet, scrotum and tail and spending 10 days in our care, this little possum above made a full recovery and was able to be released back into the wild.

Exudative Dermatitis may be related to stress associated with population density and habitat loss. Due to brushtail possums being solitary and territorial in nature, increased possum populations in one area can lead to territorial disputes; fights as well as competition for nesting places and food sources. Environmental stress can weaken a possum’s immune system and their ability to fight the disease.

possum dermatitis is a skin condition affecting brushtail possums

Remember, if you spot a sick or injured animal and need assistance, contact RSPCA Queensland on 1300 ANIMAL. Our RSPCA Rescue Team do their best to attend call outs for assistance.

If you are able to safely capture injured or sick wildlife, you can also take them to your nearest vet, wildlife carer or wildlife hospital, if possible.

Emma Lagoon
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