London’s Urban Fox: Friend or Foe?
Of all London’s urban pests, nothing divides opinion like the fox. To some they’re clever yet beautiful creatures that are a welcome sight in parks and gardens, while to others they’re dangerous and need removing from our cities. Following a couple of incidents where foxes have reportedly hurt babies, Boris Johnson has publicly stated they’re a “growing menace”.
What Sort of Creature is a Fox?
Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are a kind of small to medium sized canine, and therefore belong to the same family as dogs. They usually have rusty brown fur and a bushy tail, often have a white ‘bib’ at the front of their body, and dark coloured legs and ears.
Rural foxes hunt small mammals, birds and amphibians to survive, although they also eat fruits and other plant material. In urban environments, foxes become scavengers. This means they come into contact with humans more often, which can cause problems.
What Harm can they do?
Attacks on humans are extremely rare, and members of the public are much more likely to be bitten by a domestic dog than by a fox. Every case of a fox attack is reported in the papers, but people are bitten by dogs every day without anyone paying much attention.
Having said that, parents with babies and young children may feel safer in removing foxes from their property, and the animals are certainly pests in other ways. London foxes often scavenge from bins, making a racket and spilling rubbish all over the place. This in turn attracts other pests like rats. Foxes also dig dens under garden sheds and make all sorts of strange noises at night. As well as barking, foxes often cry out with an eerie scream that sounds almost like a crying child.
Fox faeces is pretty unpleasant, and can contain roundworm parasites. These are known to lead to a condition called toxocariasis, which can lead to blindness in some cases and is most common in young children. The animals can also spread mange, which affects dogs and can be passed to humans.
How can I Deter Foxes?
As with other pests, foxes mainly come into contact with people looking for food or shelter. Removing these elements is the key to stopping them coming into the garden.
As foxes eat a wide variety of things, there could be numerous sources of food in your garden. Rubbish sealed in thin plastic bags is likely to be a target, or overfull bins with things sticking out of the top. Foxes will also eat fallen apples and other fruit, plus beetles, worms and small rodents. As they are known to raid bird tables, you might consider getting a more enclosed design.
To remove shelter in the garden, make sure they can’t get underneath the shed, and use fencing and thorny shrubs to enclose the site. You can also remove areas of long grass, although these might be beneficial for other animals.
Pest Control Solutions
Although foxes have been living in our cities since at least the 1930s, local authorities haven’t had a programme of fox control inLondon since the 1980s. Boris Johnson’s recent remarks mean this could change in the future, but for now, calling a firm of pest controllers like us is your best bet.
Rather than hurting the foxes, we employ humane methods to deter them from your property. This includes the use of ‘Foxolutions’, which emulate the fox’s scent. As they are territorial animals, the fox will think there is a rival in the area and go somewhere else.
Killing and trapping foxes is not effective in the long term as their numbers are based on the amount of food available.
Wherever you are in and around London, we can help deter foxes from your property. Take a look at our residential page for more information, or give us a call on 0800 975 2736.