Fox infestations in gardens can be a significant problem for homeowners. Foxes are known to dig up and damage lawns, eat fruits and vegetables, and even kill small pets. These infestations can be difficult to control and may require professional assistance to resolve.
Symptoms of fox infestations in a garden can include:
- Large holes and dug-up areas in the lawn, often in search of insects and other small animals to eat. Foxes also dig dens to use as their home.
- Missing or damaged fruits and vegetables, as foxes may raid gardens for food. They are known to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including berries, grapes, apples, and tomatoes.
- Tracks and droppings in the garden, which can be used to identify fox activity. Fox droppings are similar in shape and size to those of domestic dogs, but they are often twisted at one end.
- Sightings of foxes or their tracks in the area, indicating that foxes are present and active in the area. Foxes are most active at night and are generally shy around humans.
- Killing of small pets such as chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals in the garden. Foxes are known to prey on small pets, and this can be a significant concern for pet owners.
In addition to these symptoms, foxes can also cause damage to buildings, sheds and garages as they may dig under foundations or chew on wood and wires. It’s important to note that foxes are wild animals, and their presence in gardens can be a sign of an ecological imbalance.
What is a Fox
A fox typically has the following characteristics:
- Slender body and pointed ears
- Reddish-orange coat, white underbelly and a bushy tail
- Pointed snout, small black eyes, and sharp teeth and claws
- Generally about the size of a domestic cat, with adult foxes measuring around 90cm from nose to tail and weigh around 6-7 kg.
- Have a thick fur that keeps them warm in cold weather and provide camouflage in their natural habitats.
- Their fur color can vary depending on the location and the species, they can be found in different colors like red, gray, silver, black and even crossbreed colors.
- Their bushy tail is around 1/3 of their body length and is used for balance and communication with other foxes.
- Foxes have sharp claws and strong legs which allow them to run at high speeds, climb trees and swim.
- Their ears have a distinctive black “V” shape on the tip.
- Foxes have a keen sense of smell, hearing, and vision.
- They have a distinctive bark, which is different from other wild animals and can be used to identify them.
Treating a Fox Infestation
It may be necessary to use multiple methods to effectively control a fox infestation in a garden. For example, installing a fence may keep foxes out of the garden, but it may not eliminate the food sources that are attracting them. Additionally, repellents and deterrents may not be as effective if the foxes have already established a den in the garden. In such cases, it may be necessary to use a combination of methods, such as eliminating the den and using repellents to keep the foxes away.
- Fencing: Installing a fence around the garden can be an effective way to keep foxes out. The fence should be at least 6 feet tall and buried at least a foot deep in the ground. Chain-link or welded wire fences are recommended as foxes are good climbers and diggers. To ensure that foxes are unable to dig under the fence, bury the bottom of the fence at least 6 inches below the ground and extend it outwards at a 90-degree angle for at least 6 inches.
- Eliminating dens: Foxes often dig dens in gardens to use as their home. Identifying and eliminating these dens can reduce the number of foxes in the area. Dens can be located by looking for holes in the ground, generally 1-2 feet in diameter, often located under bushes, sheds or decks. Once the den is located, it should be filled in with soil and the area covered with a heavy object, such as a large rock, to prevent the foxes from reopening the den.
- Remove food sources: Foxes are attracted to gardens that provide food. Removing food sources such as fallen fruits, pet food, and bird feeders can reduce the likelihood of foxes visiting the garden. This can be done by regularly cleaning up fallen fruits, keeping pet food indoors, and removing bird feeders during the foxes active times.
- Keep the lawn short: Foxes are more likely to dig in a lawn that is long and overgrown. Mowing the lawn regularly can make it less attractive to foxes.
Repellents and deterrents
- Chemical repellents: Certain chemical repellents can be used to deter foxes from entering a garden. Some of these repellents include predator urine, ammonia, and capsaicin. These repellents should be applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions and should not harm other wildlife or pets.
- Motion-activated lights and sounds: Foxes are generally shy around humans and may be deterred by motion-activated lights and sounds. These devices can be installed in the garden to scare off foxes. These devices can be activated by motion sensors that detect the movement of foxes and emit a loud noise or flash a light.
- Fox urine: Fox urine can be used as a repellent as foxes are territorial animals and the smell of urine from other foxes may discourage them from entering the area. However, it’s important to note that fox urine should be used with caution and in moderation, as it can be dangerous to humans and pets if it’s not handled properly.
Trapping and Removal
- Live trapping : Trapping foxes using live traps and then relocating them to a more suitable area can be an effective solution. Live traps are typically baited with food and are designed to trap the fox without causing harm. Once trapped, foxes can be relocated to a more remote location, away from human habitation.
- Exclusion devices : These devices use one-way doors which allow the foxes to leave the den but not to return. Once all foxes have left, the den can be sealed to prevent reentry. These devices are a humane and effective solution as they allow the foxes to leave without causing harm.
It’s important to note that foxes are a protected species in many areas and it’s illegal to trap or harm them without a permit. It’s essential to consult with local authorities or wildlife experts before attempting any control measures.