Foxes: Help them or Deter them?Keith
How can I help foxes in the area?
If you regularly see foxes in your garden, they have probably already found a good food supply in the area. But sometimes
food may be scarce, when cubs are being reared or during the winter, so providing small amounts could help and even give
you a chance to watch them. If you want to provide some food, put out cheese, boiled potatoes, raw chicken pieces, bread
and table scraps at dusk. Don’t put out too much as foxes may not move far if all the food they
need is available in one garden – they may bury some, defecate or cause other problems in neighbouring gardens leading to
ill-feeling against the foxes.
How can I block a fox earth I have found in my garden?
If you find a fox earth in the garden, don’t block it unless you are sure it is empty. To check, lightly block the entrances
with loose soil or sticks, through which a fox can easily break out. If after a few days the holes are still blocked, pack them
more thoroughly with soil. Take great care in the spring to avoid blocking cubs into an earth – instead block earths between
late summer and late winter.
How can I stop foxes howling at night?
Foxes call throughout the year, but normally only howl or scream during the mating season, which peaks in January.
During the mating season, consider using ear plugs!
How can I deter foxes from using my garden?
Foxes are opportunists, searching for and defending areas with suitable food and shelter. The most humane and long-term
solution to discourage foxes from your garden is to not put any food out for them, badgers, squirells, hedgehogs etc.
Remove access to any potential food supplies
• Only provide food for wild birds on fox-proof (roofed)
bird tables or in feeders.
• Protect fruit and vegetable crops – use fencing or a
frame of netting; using at least 4cm mesh to reduce the
risk of other wildlife getting tangled in the netting.
• Clear away any fallen fruit regularly.
• Use securely sealed dustbins and composters.
• Keep pet rabbits etc in secure enclosures, and put a roof
on any pet or chicken-run. Enclosures should also have
a weld-mesh front secured with a good lock that cannot
be worked loose. Also clear up any spilt pet food on the
Remove places of shelter
• Cut or clear any areas of long grass or dense vegetation
– dense cover can provide a safe, sheltered location for
a fox to lie up undisturbed during the day.
• Keep garage, greenhouse and shed doors closed.
• Prevent access to areas under sheds – these can
provide a home or a location for digging an earth
to raise cubs.
Deter foxes from the garden
• Put up fencing or plant prickly plants around the
• Use a proprietary animal repellent approved for use
Repellent products are widely available from garden centres or hardware stores. Take care to read the label and closely
follow the instructions, as each product is prepared and approved for use against certain animals in the specified way. It is
illegal to use any substance to deter foxes that has not been approved for such use.
What is the risk to children?
Foxes are wild animals and all confrontation with humans is against their instincts and would normally run away to avoid adults and children. They will learn to trust people who
are not causing them harm and may appear quite bold – but this is unlikely to be a sign of aggression.
It is possible to get mange from foxes and dogs, but the risk from foxes is very low, as direct contact is the most likely
source of infection. Another disease risk is from the roundworm (Toxocara canis) found in dog, cat and fox droppings,
which can cause toxocariasis in children. Remove any faeces and use a repellent to reduce the risk of these animals fouling
in your garden – but the risk of children picking up this parasite from fox droppings appears to be extremely low. If you
have any concern about these and any other potential health risks from animals, contact your doctor.
What is the risk to cats and dogs?
Both cats and foxes are abundant in towns and active at night, so the low number of incidents of foxes attacking cats clearly
shows that most are at little or no risk from foxes. Foxes and cats have also been watched through night vision binoculars.
The animals usually either ignored each other, or the foxes were chased away or were nervous of the cats. Research that
looked at 1,939 fox droppings collected in Oxford over a seven-year period, found only eight contained traces of cat fur.
But even the presence of cat fur does not mean foxes kill cats. Foxes are scavengers and may eat from the carcass of a cat
killed by road traffic.
Scent is an important element of communication in foxes and sometimes a dog fox will follow a female dog in heat but it is
not common for this to happen. Because dogs may pose a real threat to foxes, a fox will normally seek to avoid dogs.
To report an injured or sick fox to the RSPCA please ring the 24-hour cruelty and advice line on