Can you outwit the clever fox? Foxes don’t always make the best of neighbours but before you write them off as the neighbours from hell, take a few minutes to understand them and maybe find some ways to humanely, and permanently, discouraging them from visiting your space.
What use are they?
Foxes eat rats and pick up scavenged food. This is usually dead animals from road kills, natural deaths, and disabled orphans who have fallen from their nest, or ones unable to survive in the wild. Have you ever wondered why you see very few dead animals in the wild? It's because nature's very efficient bin men, the foxes, clear everything up for us.
Foxes are protected under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996. Foxes have never been listed or classified as vermin by Defra and, as such, your local authority are under no obligation to control them.
These wonderful creatures, with their stunning red coat, populate most of our towns and countryside. With an estimated population of 250,000, their numbers are declining and so we need to take care of our furry friends. Being canids, they are incredibly intelligent and very gentle. Their playful antics makes them a joy to watch. They are agile and fast. In captivity, they can live up to fourteen years, but in the wild these playful cuties rarely make two. Vixens are wonderful mothers and one of the few mums that really teach their children well.
Each year we rescue and rehabilitate many fox cubs and successfully release them back into the wild where they belong. We carefully survey and monitor any release sites to ensure that the area can accommodate these lively and inquisitive creatures. We have been very successful in our release programs and monitoring techniques. This information not only helps us to understand foxes but also gives us valuable information to improve our ongoing programs.
Foxes are usually fearful of us and will mostly try to avoid us. Their first form of defence is always to flee. Unfortunately, this has made them a target for sport. Over the last few years, foxes have been driven into built-up areas and have survived and adapted well. These intelligent canids are nature's "clear up army" and will scavenge and eat most leftovers - or, should I say, "runovers".
In the countryside, they will eat well on road kill and injured wildlife, but in the towns, they have adapted to leftover takeaways and processed food left out by people. Although this food can be consumed by us, for a fox the food is wholly inadequate and leads to poor health.
Mange is a symptom of an unwell fox and is therefore prevalent in these situations. In urban areas, we find that a high percentage of people feed them and entice them into their gardens. They are often seen in daylight but usually look for a quiet spot to in which to rest until dusk. Their boldness is not a sign of aggression and is often a sign of trust since people are increasingly encouraging them into their gardens.
Toxoplasmosis is a common illness that can have the effect of a fox appearing tame; the virus makes them unaware of the danger and can give them a vacant and relaxed look. A normal healthy fox is always listening and looking to remain safe. These ill foxes will often come right up to people. As with cats that carry this virus, the treatment for this condition is not effective and, once caught, it is highly unlikely that the fox can be returned to the wild.
Foxes are self-regulating and territorial; if a fox dies another will take its place. The removal of a fox is pointless and it’s far better to train this intelligent mammal than to remove it.