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Urban foxes

Urban foxes take advantage of the food and shelter provided in gardens, from compost heaps, bird-tables and bins.

Foxes have a territory and have a varied diet ranging from fruit to mice.

It is not correct that urban foxes feed on the contents of dustbins they have raided - these are more often disturbed by cats and dogs.

Noise and smells

Between December and February you may hear screaming sounds late at night.

This is sometimes called the “vixen’s scream” and is thought to be the sound made by the female fox to show she is ready to mate.

As well as barking and screaming, foxes communicate with each other using scents. They produce strong smelling urine and faeces to mark their territories.

You may find that a fox is visiting your garden when you smell these markers. If your garden is very important for a fox, it is likely to mark the area with strong smells very regularly.

Do they eat pets?

It is extremely rare for a fox to attack a cat. Most of the time they simply ignore each other. Foxes are actually quite small and they pose no threat to dogs.

Foxes’ natural prey includes small birds and mammals and they will eat pet rabbits, guinea pigs or chickens if they are given the chance.

It is also essential to prevent a fox from digging its way into the enclosure. A simple way of doing this is to lay chicken wire underneath the enclosure. 

Where do they live?

Foxes spend much of their time resting in an “earth”. 

In the urban environment earths are usually created under sheds, in cellars or any other quiet place. If you have foxes using your shed or cellar as an earth, you must be careful if you want to deter them. This is because you could disturb the young foxes that may be living there. It is probably safer to attempt this between September and December as it is outside of the breeding season.

Control of foxes

If you really don’t want foxes in your garden then dog or cat chemical repellents work well.

Another great way is to remove the reason why they are visiting. This could be food left on a compost heap, in a plastic refuse sack or food for birds placed directly on the ground. You can also close off access to your shed.

It is important that foxes do not become dependent on people providing them with food as they will lose their natural fear of humans and as a consequence come into close contact with people who are frightened of them. Tame foxes are more likely to enter homes through a cat flap or open door.

The council does not have a policy of controlling or culling foxes. You should seek the services of a pest controller if you wish to get rid of a fox from your garden.

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