Go back 10 years and it was a treat to spot an urban fox. Today you are likely to see foxes on a regular basis and not just at the side of railway stations but outside your property too. They can be quite a disruptive pest, as they can cause damage to your property and also can cause a considerable mess as they have a habit of tearing open bin bags which have been left out for rubbish collection. For this reason, you want to know how to get rid of foxes and ensure they are encouraged not to return. We discuss some of the best ways to achieve this below.
Why Foxes May Be Attracted To Your Property
Before going to drastic measures to remove foxes, the first task would be to identify if there are any reasons they are taking a keen interest in your property.
Today, the urban fox is just as likely to be attracted to your property because you are unwittingly providing a haven for them on many levels. And once they are in your garden the damage, they can cause is significant. So, why may foxes be attracted to your property in the first place? Here are the top 10 reasons.
- There is a source of water in the shape of your bird feeders or garden pond. A fox knows that they can get their daily requirement of water from the consistent sources you provide.
- Outbuildings such as sheds, home office, log cabins – all with nice roofs for foxes to jump on, to use when traversing from garden to garden; even to sunbathe on when you are not around! And, under some of these buildings, you have space for foxes to dig under the soil and make it their home. This is especially so if you have piles of logs, and unwanted garden paraphernalia or waste which makes it easy for a fox to move between items and piles to access their den. Between November and February, foxes are looking for somewhere secluded and comfortable to birth and raise cubs. Once they have made a space in your garden their den you are unlikely to get them out until their cubs can fend for themselves.
- You have unsecured and open bird feeders which contain food that foxes love.
- Feeding the squirrels with their feeders or leave scraps of food, especially meat-based food on your lawn for the birds and squirrels. Foxes will find this daily menu delicious and easy to access.
- You have chickens or other birds which you keep outside.
- You have small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs which you keep outside.
- Nice areas of plants with plenty of space around your shrubs which foxes love to dig up. And because you have lots of shrubs, you are providing foxes with areas to hide, make a den or run to from another garden. If you have flowerbeds and potted plants, vegetable patches, and greenhouses with doors open during daylight hours these are all places foxes love. This is because they provide a source of earthworms and grubs which are even easier for a fox to access after a heavy shower when the soil is much softer and easier to delve into. Don’t be surprised to see fox cubs in these areas too as they are perfect for digging with their soft paws.
- You use animal-based fertilisers on your plants and soil which foxes love. Fertilisers containing bone, blood, or fish meal often give off a strong ‘dead animal’ scent that whilst not obvious to humans is very much a desirable smell to a fox with their superior sense of smell.
- You keep children’s toys, boots, garden shoes, and dog toys outside which foxes love to play with, especially the cubs.
- Not clearing away the remnants of your garden picnic or barbeque leaving the remnants to foxes to find and feast on.
Fundamentally you are giving foxes many positive reasons to keep on coming into your garden and making it their home. You are providing a reliable supply of food from several sources, the temptation with pets and hens, entertainment, hydration, and shelter. The foxes have got into the habit of thinking that your garden benefits their well-being and that of their cubs too.
Why It’s Wise To Get Rid Of Foxes From Your Garden
Foxes can cause ongoing damage to your garden through all the seasons and cause sleepless nights with their calling to one another which sounds like a human screaming in intense pain, and which can go on for hours in the evening. But there are health reasons why you should get rid of foxes from your garden.
Foxes are members of the canine family and as such, they can carry a range of parasites and diseases harmful to pets and humans. This includes:
Caused by a parasitic roundworm in the fox, the eggs are in the faeces of the infected fox and remain infectious in the soil for several years after the faeces have disappeared. Humans can accidentally swallow the eggs which are why it is wise to keep a close eye on toddlers or babies in the garden and to wash your hands immediately after gardening. When they have been swallowed, the eggs release larvae into the intestine which travels through the body on a journey that can take several years until they die.
Foxes are susceptible to Weil’s disease which is passed to domestic pets and humans via their urine. Left untreated, it can be life-threatening.
This is an unpleasant and very contagious skin condition that is passed from foxes to dogs. If the dog then sleeps on the furniture or beds, it can pass the mange on to humans. Thankfully although an unpleasant condition, the mite which causes the itching dies within a few weeks.
And as if this was not enough, foxes carry ticks and fleas.
You must clear up any fox poo in your garden using disposable gloves and a face shield, safely disposing of it using the bags available for cleaning up dog fouling. You are likely to find fox poo on your plants and leaves as well as on the soil. It has an intensely unpleasant smell and dogs love rolling in it.
Foxes can cause extensive damage to your garden including:
- Digging up and chewing the tubes from your irrigation system. What has taken hours to install can be devastated in minutes and you are none the wiser until some of your shrubs start showing signs of drought.
- Damaging your borders. Fox cubs especially will look upon your neat rows of shrubs, hedges, and potted plants as an assault course for them to run through, dig up and play with.
- Damaging the lining of your pond. If you have a pond full of greenery with or without fish, foxes will love digging at the lining as part of their play and desire for grubs.
- Don’t be surprised to see some of your carefully tied-up bin bags filled with food and household waste strewn at the side of your bin. Foxes can easily lift the lids on your bins unless they are secured with a heavy slab and will tear at the bags to access the food waste. They are especially fond of chicken carcasses and scraps of meat.
- Killing your hens or other animals. Foxes will kill all the hens in your hen house so they can return to them later when they will bury them.
How To Deter Foxes
Whilst you do not want to cause any harm to the foxes in your garden or indeed any of the wildlife there are some easy-to-implement things you can do that will encourage foxes to seek another garden that caters to more of their needs. This includes:
- Changing fertilisers to plant-based (e.g., Seaweed)
- Only feeding the birds in squirrel proof and tamper-proof containers where the leftovers remain in the attached ‘saucer’
- Securing the lids of outside bins with a padlock or slabs
- Keeping a tidy garden with everything in secure sheds
- Clearing away all the junk in your garden, piles of unwanted logs, and any other spaces that foxes look to for hiding places because they are dark, offer shelter, and are hidden out of sight.
- Once you have ensured fox cubs are not living underneath your sheds, look at filling the holes with hardcore.
- Putting netting over your pond especially at night when foxes are more likely to spend time in your garden
- Ensuring leftovers from alfresco eating are cleared away immediately
What Smells Do Foxes Hate?
Foxes are known to be discouraged by specific odours. These include:
- Cayenne pepper/Chili powder
- White vinegar
You may want to try mixing the three ingredients and spraying them on the areas foxes frequent in your garden.
However, don’t expect immediate results. Foxes are creatures of habit and are likely to remain in your garden for several weeks whilst you are implementing these simple steps.
If you continue to experience problems with foxes and you live in the London area, please talk to us.