Advice - The urban fox
The following information about the urban fox was kindly provided by the Gateshead Council.
Recognising the urban fox
An adult fox is slightly larger than amale cat. It weighs about 6kgs (14lb) and is about 60cms long (not including its bushy tail). Foxes have pointed faces, reddish brown fur with long black hairs, a white throat and chest, and black legs.
Foxes are becoming more common in towns mainly due to surburban development of their rural habitat. Urban foxes thatare born and raised in built up areas would struggle to survive in open country. They live in a family group and produce 1-4 cubs/litter/year in an 'earth' which has one entrance and one exit. These are often found under garden sheds, in dense undergrowth or in banks of earth. Foxes eat a varied diet ranging from fruit to small animals.
Are they a problem?
Many people welcome having a fox visit their garden and they are usually considered to be beneficial as they feed on rats, mice and fereal pigeons. They are not classed as vermin. However, they can cause some damage when their earth is under a building or by digging in gardens for earthworms or grubs. Their reputation as scavengers of dustbins is not always deserved (cats and dogs are the more usual culprits). Occasionally, foxes can cause disturbance by their noisy calls but this is usually confined to around December-January.
Action to take
Gateshead Council, like most councils, does not provide an eradication service for foxes. In the UK it is illegal to poison, gas, asphyxiate, maim, stab, impale, drown, or club foxes. Some forms of snaring are also against the law.
You can deter foxes from entering your property by:
- removing potential food sources
- not leaving bagged rubbish outside - keep in closed bins
- filling gaps under sheds - a fox can squeeze under a 10cm (4 inch) gap
- only leaving food for birds in dispensers
- Protecting small pets like rabbits. Use sturdy hutches with strong welded mesh
- keeping gardens tidy and removing garden clippings
- repairing damaged air bricks
The most effective deterrent is chemical repellant such as 'Renardine' or 'Scoot' - these are available from most Garden Centres and suggest that there is a rival animal on the territory. Any fox faeces should also be removed as soon as possible. Cat scent neutralisers may also deter foxes. Please follow the manufacturers instructions when using these products.
Who could give you further information?