Foxes are common across the UK and have become even more common in urban areas during the 20th century. So much so, that many people are now realising that on occasions, they have pest control problem that involves the neighbourhood foxes.
The natural habitat and life of a fox
Foxes lives in dens and can be spotted by the debris of food and faeces around the entrance, as well as an unpleasant musty odour. The begin breeding in January – characterised by the eerie sound of the vixen call – with the young appearing in March. They have small litters of around 4 to 5 cubs. They remain in the safety of the den until around May time, when they emerge in to warmth of the spring sunshine.
Foxes are useful to humans in that they are natural predators of some other animals that can cause us problems in uncontrolled numbers such as rabbits, birds, small mammal as well as insects, worms, fruit etc. But they are a scavenging animal, rooting through bins and general rubbish can be a nuisance in an urban setting.
Like them or not?
It seems from studies that people either like foxes or are indifferent to them. In other words, the fox does not have a love/hate relationship with humans and they rarely interact. They pose no dangers to humans in terms of carrying diseases and neither do they seek to bother cats, but there are instances where some animals kept outside can be an easy meal – the domestic rabbit, for example, or hens, the keeping of which is now common in gardens, towns and cities.
Their shedding of their winter coat in spring can make them appear mange ridden, but this is rarely the case. They can carry the canine mite that causes mange but all-in-all, foxes pose very little threat to humans.
But, what are the problems?
Urban and rural foxes for that matter, can be a nuisance…
- Rooting through rubbish can mean that litter and rotting foodstuff is left strewn over gardens, roads etc.
- The area around a foxes den can be incredibly unpleasant, with the faeces for example, presenting a significant danger to health
- Foxes are nocturnal animals and having them close by your property at night can be a noisy affair; in some cases, there is little that can be done.
- Foxes mark their territory with urine, which is a highly unpleasant smell.
Dealing with foxes
Some problems, such as the vixen’s mating call, is temporary and short term but there are solutions to some other problems that they can cause;
- Keeping rubbish, in particular food stuffs, in tightly sealed bins can prevent foxes from entering your garden and spilling the contents of the bin across the yard or driveway
- Gardens that are unkempt, with plenty of places to hide and rest, can also encourage foxes onto your property; keeping the garden cut back is also a deterrent
- There are some methods that also use unpleasant smells to the fox to prevent them entering the gardening – however, the use of rags soaked in petrol or creosote present significant harm to your own pets, including other animals as well as a fire risk and public health risks.
- Like some other common pests, killing or relocating foxes can be inhumane and unnecessary and, if you do not take the necessary steps to make your property or garden less attractive to foxes, another fox family will move in… within days.
However, blocking dens is something that should be left to professional pest controllers such as Devon Pest Control. Before blocking it, the den will need to be monitored to ensure that all foxes and cubs have vacated the den. Once the den is sealed, it can take persistence and patience to ensure that the foxes do not return.