There are few more beautiful wild animals in the British countryside than the fox and to spy one during the day moving across an open field is one of life’s pleasures. However, more and more foxes are choosing to share our gardens and whilst most of us would still consider an occasional visit as a treat, some foxes may choose to build their den in your garden.
This is usually not ideal for several reasons – digging, scent marking and fouling.
Also, while you may like to see foxes in your garden – they could frighten or even harm your pets.
Whilst foxes aren’t going to eat you out of house and home, they do enjoy digging and can create quite a lot of damage to plants and young shrubs. Foxes will scent-mark and will also choose to foul in an area not too far from the den. Fox urine and other excretions are rather pungent and not very pleasant on the human nose, while somehow very attractive to dogs to roll in.
Additionally, foxes may prey on small pets or livestock (such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, and kittens/small cats), so these pets should be kept indoors or housed in sturdy structures. Many dogs will naturally want to chase a fox and depending on their breed, age, and experience, they may fight and not always return unscathed, so the conflict is best avoided all round.
Make Your Own Mark
If you want a fox family to move on, some mild humane harassment techniques may speed up the process:
- Loosely pack leaves, soil, or mulch in the den openings to disturb the residents.
- Place urine soaked cat litter, a sweat-soaked T-shirt, a pair of smelly socks or old trainers in or near the den opening to clearly mark it as your territory.
- Mount shiny party balloons or strips of metallic tape on sticks or poles two or three feet off the ground, just outside and around the den entrance.
- Place a small portable radio near the point of entry where the fox gains access to your garden with the radio tuned to an “all-talk” Radio Station. The fox will think there are humans about and will give the area a wide berth to avoid danger and confrontation.
Commercial remedies include the Scoot Fox Deterrent. Scoot is a patented non-toxic formula used to keep foxes away by mimicking scent-marking odours. It works by convincing the fox that another animal has taken over its territory.
Get Off My Garden is a citronella scented jelly granule product and is often used for defending soil areas such as flowerbeds or planters against fouling and digging.
Other general advice is not to leave food waste lying about and also to refrain from feeding foxes as, whilst you may enjoy their company, your neighbours may think otherwise.
Nine times out of ten, foxes will avoid humans and a sighting at a distance is usually a pleasure.
Do you have any pictures of foxes or other wildlife you would like to share? Please email them to Jo Smith on: firstname.lastname@example.org.