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The Fox

Image of red foxThe fox is a wild member of the dog family and commonly found on farmland, in forests, towns and cities.

Male or dog foxes weigh about 6.5kg and measure about 110cms from nose to tail. Females or vixens are smaller weighing about 5.5kg. Foxes are generally about the size of a miniature poodle.

The Urban Fox

Urban foxes are born, live, breed and may spend all their life in the town/city never seeing the countryside.

They are mainly active in the evening/night tending to spend the day in burrows known as earths or dens. Urban dens may be located under garden sheds or greenhouses, or even under industrial buildings.

Vixens generally give birth in the den and rear one family a year. When the cubs mature they leave and disperse to another area and can live to 8 years or older, but the average lifespan is probably about 18 months due to death by traffic.

Problems with Foxes

The number of fox complaints received by the Council is rising. Most complaints relate to nuisance from screaming or barking, scattering of refuse, leaving food debris and digging, especially during the spring breeding season. Fox screams can be alarming but they are only a method of communicating between themselves.

Foxes tend to be nervous and take every opportunity to avoid humans but they are adapting to urban life and some are less afraid. It is unlikely that a healthy fox would attack a human unless cornered and an attempt was made to contain it, however, they should not be approached as they are wild animals.

In June/July young cubs may dig up areas of lawn, searching for leather jackets, grubs or lava. A fish, blood or bone based fertiliser may also attract foxes and encourage them to dig. Foxes eat fruit, worms, insects, small mammals and scavenged food.

Foxes can carry a number of diseases such as mange and parasitic worms, and it is possible for humans to contract these conditions but it is not known whether foxes pass them on. It is, however, recommended that fox faeces are removed from gardens, especially where children play, to avoid any risk. Foxes are generally nervous around cats and they probably meet frequently during the night.

Solving a Fox Problem

First, ensure that a fox is the culprit - cats, dogs and squirrels are frequent scavengers of dustbins and refuse sacks, and damage to lawns is often caused by birds. To prevent foxes attacking small pets (e.g. rabbits, guinea pigs and poultry) ensure they are housed in secure hutches and coops.

Trapping and killing may not solve a problem as foxes from surrounding areas quickly move into vacant territories to replace any animal that has been killed. Foxes tend to be self regulating and are limited by the availability of food and territory.

Foxes can be persuaded to move from your garden and vacated earths can be blocked up (but take care in the Spring not to seal cubs in the earth). To reduce visits to your garden remove or protect whatever is attracting foxes - bird food, domestic refuse, fertilisers etc. Try to block access routes, but fencing off an entire garden may not work as it would need to be at least 2 metres with no gaps in or underneath it. You may find a fox problem rectifies itself in the course of time, for example when a litter of cubs disperses towards the end of summer.

A number of non-toxic products are available from hardware shops and garden centres that produce unpleasant smells and deter or confuse the fox into thinking another animal is within its territory. The fox may try to confront this imaginary animal but if it cannot be found the fox will normally leave the area.

It is very unusual for a fox to enter a house unless it is a tame one or extremely hungry and looking to scavenge pet food etc. left around. Foxes will generally not allow humans within 15-20 feet and domestic cats will almost always see off a fox if they come face-to-face.

Pest Control

Elmbridge Borough Council does not undertake fox management. There is no specific law requiring Councils to control foxes and currently we do not have the manpower, equipment or specialist skills to carry out such work. We can however, provide information about |alternative pest control companies who may undertake this work. If you are concerned about foxes in your area, you should contact a professional pest control company to manage them.

Further information

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