Foxes first colonised British cities in the 1930s. Natural scavengers, they eat a wide variety of food and knowing that humans are a good source of food, fox numbers have tended to be higher in cities and urban areas. Timid creatures they naturally avoid contact with adults and children, however, feeding foxes can encourage them to venture closer to properties and it’s not unheard of for a fox to enter a home through an open door or cat-flap. In fact, it’s not uncommon now to hear of foxes attacking babies and even adults.
Do Foxes Carry Disease?
Foxes harbour parasites and disease. Sarcoptic mange is the most cost common and affects fox populations globally. Mange, or scabies, is a parasitic mite. Needing a host to breed and feed, they can survive in the environment for a considerable time and being microscopic are almost impossible to locate. Burrowing under the top layers of skin, they cause a reaction that makes the fur fall out and the fox often becomes emaciated and dehydrated. Foxes also carry lungworm – which can be fatal when transmitted to cats and dogs.
So What Can Be Done?
Their numbers are increasing – the last estimate (from the 1980s) put the total population of urban foxes at 33,000 some 39 years on that number would have grown considerably. So what can be done to control the growth of foxes in urban areas?
Legal methods for culling, there are three options:
- Cage trap and dispatch
- Controlled shooting
- Snaring and dispatch
Unfortunately, all three options end up with the fox losing Its life. However, before you embark on a culling method, you should know that territories made vacant by the resident fox will quickly be re-colonised by new foxes.
Although there are numerous repellents on the market they must be used with great care. As most repellents are based on fox urine, if not used in the correct way, they can fool the fox into thinking another fox is using its territory and can actively encourage it to visit the premises more often. However this is the most humane form of fox control.
Proofing and Exclusion
Although it may not be practical to proof your entire property against foxes, it is possible to proof parts of it and with more and more people keeping chickens and working from home in garden offices, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to do so. Proofing can simply be applied to the bottom of sheds, garden offices, outbuildings and fences.
5 Top Tips To Stop Foxes Entering Your Garden and Home
- Restrict doors and lower windows to only open out to 100mm (4”) or keep them shut, especially when cooking.
- Keep all “at risk” pets and livestock secure over night in fox proofed housing.
- Ensure that all food waste is stored in bins;
(you may need to secure the lids with bungee straps).
- Do not leave dog/cat food or food scraps outside on the ground for birds as this will attract foxes and rats.
- Do not use bone meal fertilisers in the garden as this may attract foxes.