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Urban foxes

All you need to know about urban foxes.


How common are they?

Foxes have adapted well to life in towns and cities. Rural foxes quickly urbanised, taking advantage of the food and shelter provided in the relatively large gardens, from compost heaps, bird-tables and garden buildings.

They are now commonly found across London and other cities in the UK. There are now more opportunities of food and shelter for foxes in towns and cities than in the surrounding countryside.

What do they eat?

Their diet is varied, it will include:

  • insects and grubs
  • slugs and worms
  • small rodents
  • birds and mammals such as chicken and anything that they can scavenge from rubbish

It is rare for a fox to attack a cat. Most of the time, they ignore each other.

Are they a nuisance?

Between December and February, mating call from vixens resembling screaming sound could be heard late at night. As well as barking and screaming, foxes communicate with each other using scents. They produce strong smelling urine and faeces to mark their territories. They can damage lawns and gardens when digging for worms and they can also rip open rubbish bags and overturning dustbins.

Do they carry diseases?

Foxes can suffer from Leptospirosis, mange and toxocara, but there is little evidence that these can be passed on to humans and their pets.

How can they be controlled?

Where foxes are causing a serious nuisance, humane methods can be used to deter them.

  • Deny them an easy food source:
    • ​keep rubbish in bins until the day of collection wherever practical. Make sure bins have lids on and they are properly secured or build some sort of barrier.  
    • remove possible sources of food such as scraps from compost heaps.
    • do not put out large amounts of bird food. Use special bird feeders and do not leave food on the ground.
    • do not feed dogs and cats out of doors.
    • make sure that small pets and chickens are housed in strong hutches or enclosures and that foxes cannot dig their way in.
  • Deny them territory:
    • ​prevent foxes from gaining access to your garden by making sure fences do not have any gaps
  • Use repellents where foxes: 
    • foul repeatedly (remove the fouling first)
    • enter your garden (usually over or under fences)
    • have the entrances to earths (burrows in the ground where foxes live)
    • might be seen resting or foraging for food

When using chemical repellents you are effectively "scent-marking" your territory much as a fox does and competing with it to win back your garden. You will need to be persistent in removing a fox's droppings and using chemical repellents in order to succeed.

There are currently no chemical products with a specific label recommendation for repelling foxes. However, there are a range of products supplied for the home garden market that carry very general recommendations for use against a wide range of animals and birds. You are advised to read the labels carefully and if in doubt, further advice regarding its suitability on repelling foxes should be sought from the retailer or manufacturer. It is important to note that the products should only be used in situations and manner as prescribed by the manufacturers.

Useful links

Contact number for nearest pest control companies that carry out fox control work, contact British Pest Control Association.

Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 09 Apr 2018 at 09:02