Many people mistakenly believe that the presence of a fox in the garden can be dangerous to both humans and other pets that are living there but this is rarely the case. It is extremely rare for a fox to attack a cat and it will never take on a dog. Even rabbits and smaller animals are usually quite safe as long as their hutch is secured. They may be more vulnerable in late spring/early summer when foxes are rearing their cubs but providing the hutch is built sturdily and is completely secured you shouldn’t have a problem. In fact, you might want to keep the hutch in a secure garage, shed or even bring it indoors if you’re that concerned. In fact, the reality is that the most damage caused by the presence of foxes in your garden is likely to be on your ears and nose! Their mating calls, usually between December and February, can resemble a screaming sound which will keep you awake long into the night. They can also dig up the garden looking for worms and their excretions to mark their territories are often highly pungent. For some wildlife enthusiasts, however, having foxes in the garden can be a privilege.
How to Keep Foxes Away From Your Garden
First and foremost, it’s important to state that the law prevents the use of any form of inhumane and poisonous control methods and any chemical you might choose to use must be covered by the Control of Pesticide Regulations 1986. The best course of action, however, is to remove the attraction in the first place which is likely to be food and or shelter.
Refuse bags which have simply been tied up and left outside in your garden are an open invitation to a fox to tear them up and rummage through them. They can scent food from a great distance. You should dispose of all your food waste in a domestic wheelie bin with the lid firmly closed and remove possible sources of other food such as compost heap scraps. If you have dogs or cats, don’t feed them outside and make sure that any food you leave out for the birds is only accessible to the birds and no other creatures.
If you suspect shelter is more the reason for their presence you might need to resort to using some kind of approved animal repellent to remove the attraction and, in a worse case scenario, you may even have to resort to using thick wire mesh securely fixed to make a protective shield around the perimeter of your garden.
The Myth of the Fox Attack
Contrary to popular belief, a fox will not usually openly attack a human, be it an adult or a child nor will it attack another dog. The recent event in London where twin babies were attacked, is thought to have been a fox cub attracted by the smell of the babies’ nappies. The fox seems to have to tried to drag the nappies through the bars of the cot and viewed the babies as opponents trying to prevent it. Experts say this kind of attack is extremely rare, but it’s wise to keep an eye on youngsters and keep doors closed in the evenings when foxes are out looking for food.
Most cats will also prove too much of a threat to a fox. However, if found in a shed or cornered elsewhere, a fox, like many other frightened animal, may try to bite in self-defence so you should not try to corner or capture a trapped fox but allow it an escape route and it will leave as soon as it knows it’s safe to do so.
For fox enthusiasts, however, the presence of foxes in the garden can mean incredible hours of wildlife observation at its finest and they will also help to keep mice and rats away.