About Nuisance Foxes
Foxes, with their bushy tails and lovely soft fur, have long been hunted for their pelts. However, the animals themselves, in urban areas especially, are often considered a nuisance.
Read on to learn more about foxes and how to deal with them if you don’t want them on your property.
Foxes are medium-sized mammals, from the family Canidae, along with dogs, wolves, and coyotes. While the red fox (Vulpes Vulpes) is probably the most well-known fox species, others have a range of fur colors, including reds, browns, black, grey, white, and flecked. Their famous bushy tails are used for more than just balance; it also makes a warm cover in winter or cold weather and is used as a signal to communicate with other foxes.
Habitat & Diet
Foxes are opportunistic hunters and foragers; their natural diet includes berries, plants, insects, mice, small reptiles, and frogs.
Living in both wooded areas and meadows, foxes will generally dig their burrows under tree roots, or make their den in another animal’s abandoned burrow. Foxes are excellent diggers and will modify the existing burrow to suit their needs: fox holes generally have more than one entrance, in case they need to make a quick exit to escape predators, such as wolves.
Mating & Rearing
The fox’s mating season is December through May. Their litters can number anywhere between two and twelve pups, and both parents will stay to raise them. While foxes are solitary hunters, they often live in family groups, so even after the young have reached sexual maturity, not all of them will leave.
Problems They Cause
Foxes can become a problem in urban areas, both for their diet, and their search for shelter.
Hunter & Forager
Foxes are natural predators of smaller animals, so any small pets will need to be kept secure, or where possible brought in overnight. Chickens, guinea pigs, and rabbits are all easy prey for a hungry fox.
As foragers, you’re likely to find them scrounging in your garbage, eating your plants, or digging holes in your garden in search of insects. Foxes also stash excess food to return to later, so you may find areas of your yard dug up, sometimes with a dead animal buried for the fox to eat later.
Dens & Burrows
While they may dig burrows under tree roots in the wild, in urban areas, the spaces underneath houses make an attractive home for them. Foxes will also dig under decks and sheds to make their den. This can cause issues with the foundation of the building, and any gas lines in the way will be chewed through in the same way they chew through smaller roots to make way for their tunnels.
Foxes can carry the rabies virus, but you’re more likely to be affected by the parasites they carry. These can be passed onto you, and your pets through direct transmission, or by coming into contact with the fox’s feces.
If you can prevent foxes from entering your property, you make dealing with them a lot easier.
Remove Food Sources
- If you have pets, don’t leave pet food outside for them. If your pets are outdoor animals, try feeding them at set times during the day, rather than presenting a constant food supply that might attract foxes and other wild animals.
Foxes will also hunt mice and other small rodents. By keeping a tidy yard, cleaning up outdoor food sources, and removing hiding places such as woodpiles or empty pots, you reduce the chances of rodents moving in. Without the scent of them there to lure the fox, it’s less likely you’ll have a fox coming in hunting.
Another way to prevent foxes is to keep them out with physical barriers. Both solid and wire fences work to keep foxes out, but they need to be six feet high and should be dug ten inches into the ground to stop them from digging under it.
Professional Removal Tactics
If you already have a fox problem, and prevention tactics aren’t working, you may want to consider hiring a professional. They will most commonly use a cage trap to capture the fox, and then remove them from the property.
Alternatively, you can try their tactics to remove the fox yourself.
- Purchase a large cage trap, usually around 12 inches, by 12 inches by 36 inches.
- Determine the best site to place the trap. Foxes tend to use the same paths, so find an area they frequent, but where the trap won’t be in the open.
- Wash the trap down and wear gloves while baiting and setting the trap. You want to minimize your scent. Foxes are intelligent creatures, and human scent on a metal cage will alert them to the trap.
- Set the fox trap with a meat-based bait (such as fish, canned pet-food, pork, or fat).
- Once placed and set, disguise the trap with some well-placed branches or other means of camouflage.
- Check the trap daily.
Once you’ve caught the fox, you can either call for a professional service to take it away or relocate it yourself. Just make sure that you call and check your State’s Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations on fox relocation first.