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Fox Problems: Issues Caused by Foxes

Urban and country foxes can cause umpteen problems in neighbourhoods and country settings. Fox problems can be annoying at best and a serious health hazard at worst.

PROBLEMS CAUSED BY FOXES: As a rule, foxes are not removed by local councils. Fox species often cause problems by:

  • Marking their territory with an unpleasant scent and droppings.
  • Rummaging in waste or garbage bins.
  • Digging up flower beds, plants, or lawns searching for insects and worms.
  • Making loud ‘screaming noises‘ during the night hours (more often from December to May).
  • Creating dens in domestic spaces like outbuildings and sheds.
  • Eating small family pets (especially rabbits).

Foxes will cause problems for people in urban and country settings. So, what are the best methods for dealing with problems caused by foxes?

This guide highlights some steps to make your area less appealing to a fox. But, because many fox problems are different, there are several different ways of dealing with problems caused by foxes.

Remove Food Sources for Foxes

Removing their sources of food is one of the best ways to make your area unappealing to foxes. To deter them from living in your neighbourhood you should:

  • Not leave food or other waste products in plastic bags outdoors.
  • Remove any fallen fruit from trees and any other decaying food waste.
  • Use metal or tough plastic trash bins that have a tight secure lid.
  • Use welded mesh instead of thin chicken wire for any outdoor pet enclosures (available from a DIY store).
  • Avoid leaving spilled bird food in your garden and use a covered bird table (at least 1.5 metres above the ground).

Note: Despite being illegal, fly-tipping litter can also attract foxes to visit your local neighbourhood.

Diseases from Foxes to Humans

The biggest problems caused by country foxes is the threat to livestock. Whereas, urban foxes create a threat of serious health hazards to you, your family, and to small pets.

That threat comes from any close physical contact with foxes and their waste products. The best way to protect your family is to set up barriers between you and fox diseases.

Some people think they are beautiful looking animal. But, the contagious diseases they carry, create a serious cause for concern.

Fox species are part of the canine family. There are 37 species of foxes. But only 12 species belong to the genus ‘vulpes‘ (true foxes).

The best known would be the red fox, arctic fox, kit fox, fennec fox, and the grey fox. The common red fox is the only indigenous fox species in the United Kingdom. Even though they are genetically related to dogs, they cannot cross breed.

Red foxes are neither omnivore nor carnivore. They are ‘canidae‘. This means they mostly eat meat but they can also eat fruit and vegetables for energy. That also means they can adapt to most environments and breed in any situation (like humans). This is why they can survive in the countryside as well as urban areas.

Dealing with Diseases Spread by Foxes

Fact: Foxes carry many different germs and spread some hazardous diseases. This list explains some of the most serious parasites and diseases carried by foxes:

  • Rabies: This can be fatal. Rabies eradication from the British Isles took place in 1902. All cases since then were in fact contracted abroad from animal bites. Thus, be extra careful when approaching foxes and dogs while on a holiday abroad.
  • Hookworm: Foxes ingest the hookworm parasite and deposit the larvae in their stool. Use extra caution when clearing unknown animal stools, especially in child sand pits. The larvae enter humans through the first layer of the skin. It is not lethal to humans but it often causes a rash for 4 to 6 weeks. Even so, hookworm can be lethal to young puppies. That is why animal lovers and dog owners must ensure their pup gets wormed on a regular basis.
  • Sarcoptic Mange: This is a mite that can infect humans, dogs, and cats. While it is fatal in fox species, it is easily treated in cats and dogs by a veterinarian. As a rule, sarcoptic mange only causes a mild rash to humans for a few weeks.

Note: Protect yourself against diseases caused by foxes. Make sure everyone washes their hands ‘thoroughly’ after working or playing in the garden.

Fox Problems in Urban and Country Areas

There are different ways of dealing with fox problems in urban and country areas. As a rule, they get seen as pest control issues in urbanizations. Whereas, it becomes more of a vermin control problem in rural areas.

Fox Pest Control UK Urban Areas

Controlling foxes in an urban area is a pest problem. They are officially considered as pests – not vermin. You can kill vermin to control the problems they cause. But, pests should be controlled and killing them should be the last resort.

Fox Vermin Control UK Country Regions

Some people tolerated the country fox as vermin because they were part of fox hunting. Then it got banned in Scotland in 2003 and in England from 2005. Since then, farmers and landowners had the only option of controlling fox population by gassing and shooting. They use this as a fox vermin pest control measure.

Using Chemicals to Deter Foxes

You can use fox repellents to discourage fox species coming onto your property. Garden centers and hardware stores supply a variety of pellets and powders. But, all repellents must have HSE approval.

An example would be a chemical containing aluminium ammonium sulphate. You do not need a wildlife licence to use these types of fox repellent.

If you find a fox’s den it is illegal to block them in. Dens are often under houses and sheds. The foxes will usually leave their den after they finish rearing their cubs.

As a rule, the den will be empty from June to November. That is a good time to block their access for the following season. You can also try placing new objects in and around the near vicinity if they do not leave the lair. Foxes do not like changes close to their dens.

Report a Dead or Injured Fox

Note: Report a dead fox or animal to the local council. You can report an injured fox to the RSPCA in England and Wales. Do not try to help an injured fox unless you have training to do so. They are wild animals and foxes will attack humans if they feel cornered.

Fox Problems: How to Deal with Hazards caused by Foxes in the United Kingdom