Dealing with problems caused by foxes

Foxes can cause problems in your neighbourhood but local councils don't have to remove them. Find out what you can do to make your area less attractive to foxes and avoid problems with foxes.

Problems caused by foxes

Foxes can cause problems because they:

  • mark their territory with unpleasant scent and droppings
  • raid waste or compost bins
  • can dig up plants, flower beds or lawns searching for insects and worms or to bury surplus food
  • make loud 'screams' at night - mainly from December to May
  • make dens in spaces under houses, sheds and outbuildings
  • can eat small pets, like rabbits

Removing sources of food

The main way to make your area unattractive to foxes is to remove sources of food and places to live. Make sure that you:

  • don’t leave food outside
  • use a covered bird table that is at least 1.5 metres above the ground
  • clear up any spilled food if you feed birds in your garden
  • don’t store waste in plastic bags outside
  • use waste and compost bins made of metal or tough plastic with tightly secured lids
  • clear away fallen fruit and any decaying food waste
  • use welded mesh instead of chicken wire for pet enclosures - you can get this from a DIY store

Fly-tipping in your neighbourhood can attract foxes.

Blocking empty living spaces

If the space is occupied by foxes or other animals, it’s illegal to trap them by blocking the entrance. Instead, wait until the foxes stop using the space and then block the entrance before the next breeding season which lasts from December to May.

Foxes don’t usually stay in a den after they have reared their cubs. If they choose to stay, change the immediate surroundings or place a new object nearby. Foxes are typically afraid of unfamiliar things.

Legal protection for foxes

It’s against the law to treat foxes cruelly.

Legal protection for badgers

If you think badgers are living in a space, don't block the entrance. It is illegal because badgers and the places they live in are protected.

Foxes and infectious diseases

Foxes can carry parasites and infectious diseases. However, you can protect yourself very effectively by washing your hands and your children's hands after working or playing in the garden. You should also make sure that pet dogs and cats are treated regularly for worms.

Using chemicals to deter foxes

If you do use repellents for foxes, you should only use substances approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). An example of an approved substance is one containing aluminium ammonium sulphate. You can usually buy repellents at large hardware stores or garden centres.

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