CAN YOU OUTWIT THE CLEVER FOX
Foxes don’t always make the best of neighbours but before you write them of as the neighbours from hell take a few minutes to understand them and may be 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. That 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 because natures 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 make 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 cutie's 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 at all costs. 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 natures "clear up army" and will scavenge and eat most left overs or should I say "run overs".
In the countryside they will eat well on road kill and injured wildlife but in the towns they have adapted to left over 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 therefore is prevalent in these situations. In urban areas we find a high percentage of people feed them and entice them into their garden. They are often seen in daylight but usually look for a quiet spot to rest in until dusk. Their boldness is not a sign of aggression and is often a sign of trust as people are increasingly encouraging them into their gardens.
Toxiplasmosis is a common illness that can have the effect of a fox appearing tame; the virus makes them unaware of danger and can give 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 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.
Did you know that a foxes diet consists of over 90% scavenged food, wild mammals such as rats, mice and invertebrates and of course loads of fruit. Birds are a little below 7% and pets at 3%, in a recent survey it equated to a pet every five years.
Mother nature ensures natural instinct is strong in these amazing mammals.
Some people feed foxes and again when they have too much food they take it away and bury it so if you have a lot of people feeding you will get a lot of holes.
Foxes have a fantastic sense of smell and love bugs and earthworms that lie in the roots of plants and grass. Hence little holes in your lawn. The big holes/furrows will probably be badgers. We must add that bone meal, fish and blood based fertilizer in the soil may convince a fox there is already a stash there to be found. A vixen will dig several earth's prior to having her cubs. If she feels unsafe she will move them…I would say that’s clever and very caring.
The only creature that seeks to annoy anything would be a human. Animals have far more important things to deal with such as surviving. Foxes have to eat every day to survive, they need protection from the weather and from us. Foxes have no natural predators in the wild but numbers have declined in the last 10 years.
Foxes dig for three reasons - to find food, to bury food and to dig an earth. That’s it, not for fun and not to annoy. Foxes are extremely clever and would only dig in "good digging" soil. Unfortunately for us, that could be a newly made flower bed or a golf bunker.
FOXES AND CAGED CHICKENS
Foxes are a little lazy but very, very clever.
If we choose to cage animals insecurely, that would be called a “larder” to a fox. He can open the door or dig a small hole and all those chickens/rabbits/ducks are just sitting on the shelves waiting for him. So clever fox kills them all and stores them for later. He eats one and then goes back for the rest one by one and buries them in his own larder. That larder now is possibly the hole in your garden, hence lots of them……………... So don’t shout, admire the clever sole
The habits of our intelligent fox have changed but not their numbers.
Foxes are canids and highly intelligent and adaptation has been the key to their survival. They have now trained us to feed them and have learnt to find easy pickings from their would be friends the humans. In the late 70’s it became common place to feed cats outside and feed garden birds. In the last twenty years garden bird food has become a multi million pound business.
SHOOTING & POISONING
Shooting and poisoning a fox can be inhumane at worse, very costly at best but most importantly absolutely pointless. Foxes are territorial and if you remove one from a territory another WILL take its place.
Territories range from 400km sq. in remote parts of Scotland to as little as 50 terraced gardens in London. If food supplies are abundant in towns foxes will share the wider territory with other foxes. Food supply defines their territory.
Fox number have not increased in the last 30 years but their habits and most importantly our habits have changed. In fact recent surveys show there are 20 % fewer foxes in the UK than there were 20 years ago.
You may be interested to know fox number and badger numbers are similar and you may also be interested to know foxes were hunted to extinction in the 18th century. They were then imported from France and Germany to re populate the UK by the hunts, hence the nickname Reynard, used by the hunts, which is the french word for fox. Until the 1930’s there were no foxes on the Isle of Wight, they were imported from the mainland UK for fox hunting and then bred. Inbreeding is a contributor to a weak immune system.