Urban foxes can be quite bold, just the other week, one crossed my path in the early hours of the morning. It was rather fearless and was not concerned with my presence. We also get a lot of them in the animal hospital I work at.
I’ve not had any in my current garden but I know of people who do get the occasional fox enter their garden. While foxes are voted one of Britain’s most popular wildlife, not everyone appreciates having foxes in their garden. Some people are afraid of foxes coming into their home and some have pets like rabbits that would be stressed out with foxes in the garden.
You may have noticed that not everyone seems to have foxes in their garden. Foxes are territorial animals, particularly during the time when they have cubs. Some gardens will be more appealing for a fox family and there are a number of factors that will contribute to this.
If you do find foxes in your garden or you are worried that you might have foxes on the verge of moving in, then read on. I’ll go over how to put foxes off using your garden as a home.
How to deter foxes from the garden
Foxes are scavengers by nature, they will always go for the easiest food source where possible. They are not fussy eaters and will eat both meat, fruit, bugs and vegetables. If your garden has a good source of food that can support a family of foxes during breeding season, you may find them soon residing in your garden.
Remove all potential sources of food:
- Secure all your bins and compost bins as left over food can be very enticing for foxes.
- If you feed wild birds, use feeders that minimize spillage. If you feed hedgehogs or put food outside for your cat, consider finding a way to secure it so foxes cannot get to it or removing the bowl as soon as it the animal has finished so there is no scent of food left in your garden.
- Remove any fallen fruit from any of your fruit trees, foxes will eat apples and other fruit if it is accessible.
- If you do see foxes in your garden and you have rabbits, guinea pigs or chickens in the garden, consider moving them indoors at night or in an unused garage if you have one (if you do use a car and park it in your garage, it is advised not to put your pet in there as the fumes from cars can be toxic to animals). If you are unable to move them then make sure their homes are secure. Chicken wire is not an effective material to use when securing enclosures or hutches. Use welded mesh and a good quality lock. Crafty foxes are known to be able to slide certain locks open. Padlocks that require a key or combination are the most ideal.
Is There A Family of Foxes Living Under Your Shed?
When foxes are starting families, they will look for a safe place to raise their cubs. Occasionally, people have asked me what to do about the family of foxes living under their shed etc.
The problem is, once a fox has settled in your garden with cubs, there is little you can do to remove them. You will have to wait until autumn when the cubs have grown up enough to disperse before trying to make your garden less suitable for foxes.
Having a family of foxes in your garden rarely poses a threat to you or your animals (provided your outdoor animals are secured properly). It is extremely rare for a fox to attack a human, adult or child, they would be very unlikely to attack dogs or cats as they are not confrontational by nature.
They may try to enter your home if they smell obvious food and the back door is open so keep the door close if this is likely to be a problem for you. However, just because they are unlikely to attack, a cornered fox can still be dangerous as fear can cause them to act out so do not remove a family of foxes by yourself.
What can you do to make your garden less appealing?
- If you have a shed, board up the bottom as some foxes will make a den under the shed space. Do this when all cubs have left and make sure there is no animal under the shed before boarding it up.
- Keep backdoors, sheds and garages closed as foxes may go in to take shelter.
- Have a secure fence that goes below ground to prevent digging in.
- Cut your grass regularly as long grass creates an ideal environment for foxes to lie in and for cubs to play without being spotted.
- Consider surrounding your garden in thick prickly hedge, if it is difficult to get into your garden, foxes may not bother.
- It is possible to make use of fox deterrents from garden centres. These should be non-toxic. Please follow instructions carefully.
The law and foxes
I have been asked several questions regarding the extermination of foxes. Let me explain why this would not be worthwhile for you and how the law also protects foxes from unauthorised extermination.
So you might think it’s easier to use things like poison etc to rid your garden of foxes as opposed to all those above measures. Well, it would seem easier, wouldn’t it? Here’s the thing though, you rid your garden of one fox or even a family of them but if your garden is considered desirable, you will find that in no time at all, another fox will move in. They are opportunists and if your garden is the ideal home, you will find no amount of poison would sort your problem out.
If that doesn’t put you off, maybe the law will. It is illegal and definitely irresponsible to leave poison out. Not only are you putting your pets or your neighbours pets in danger but you will be fined and may even face imprisonment. Poison can also harm children.
You should also be aware that if a family of foxes have a den in your garden, it is illegal to trap them in the den. It is illegal to trap or kill foxes without the appropriate license and training.
Poison, trapping and killing are all acts of cruelty and are not permanent solutions to ridding your garden of foxes. If you are really troubled and my advice hasn’t helped, contact your local council. Also, do not be concerned that the fox population is on the rise. Population levels are controlled by food and shelter availability, disease and road traffic accidents (a high number of foxes are killed this way per year) so we are unlikely to be overrun by foxes.
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has a useful article on urban foxes: http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/environment/environmentalhealth/pestcontrolservice/urbanfoxes.aspx
The RSPCA has some information and a good PDF on this link: