Wondering how to get rid of foxes? If you've noticed them in your garden and want to get them out, we've got all the info you need.
Although related to dogs, foxes are wild animals and can be found all over the world. The red fox is the most common and is often seen in cities and the countryside alike.
They aren't the worst of intruders, generally keeping themselves to themselves. In fact, some people take delight in spotting a visiting fox stalk across their plot at night. But, they can be susceptible to digging up gardens, overturning trash cans, and preying on chickens as they scavenge for food. And some, unfortunately, are rabid, which can put you and your pets at risk.
If you'd prefer to keep your plot fox-free, these tips on how to get rid of foxes are sure to come in handy. And if you're after advice for smaller pests, our guide on how to get rid of ants is worth a read, too.
Practical advice on how to get rid of foxes
We've rounded up some simple tips to help deter foxes from your plot without harming them.
How can you tell if there's a fox in your garden?
Red foxes have brownish-reddish fur with a white chest and a bushy tail. They have a pointed nose and pointed, upright ears and are around the size of a large domestic cat. However, foxes are shy and mostly nocturnal, meaning they can be difficult to spot, although they do venture out during the day sometimes.
Some pests can cause serious damage to properties (our guides on how to get rid of termites and how to get rid of carpenter bees will come in useful if you need to tackle the offenders). Unlike these, foxes generally don't do a huge amount of damage. But if you're wondering if a fox has visited your yard, there are a few telltale signs to look out for:
- Foxes can dig up areas of lawn or flowerbeds on the hunt for insects.
- They can also upend trash cans, leaving a mess.
- Foxes like to mark their territory by leaving droppings in prominent places – the center of a lawn, for instance.
- You might also notice a musky smell.
- Trampled plants and damaged fruit crops can be another sign that you've had a fox to visit.
- Have you ever heard a fox scream? It's a rather unsettling noise, especially in the middle of the night!
How to get rid of foxes: 6 safe and humane methods
If you'd rather not host a fox (or a family of) in your garden, there are some simple tricks you can try.
1. Keep it tidy
Clearing up your plot can be helpful for deterring all kinds of pests, and what better reason to give your yard a good sort-out?
'Trim the hedges, cut the grass and keep everything in order,' says Pol Bishop, a gardening expert working for Fantastic Gardeners. Foxes like shaded, sheltered areas that they can use to hide in, so the less, the better.
'Remove any rubbish from the garden and generally keep it tidy,' Pol adds. If you don't have one already, it's worth investing in some good garden storage ideas for your bins to stop foxes from getting in. This can help if you're looking for tips on how to get rid of skunks, too.
Samantha Jones, gardening expert at MyJobQuote.co.uk, says, 'If you normally leave bread and seeds for birds, this may also attract foxes as they typically search for scraps in nearby gardens.
'You should either stop leaving food altogether or clear up any leftovers once the birds have stopped eating them.'
2. Install a fence
'One of the most effective ways to deter foxes from your garden is to install secure fencing,' says Samantha Jones of MyJobQuote.co.uk. 'When installing a fence, you need to make sure there are no spaces as foxes typically take advantage of small gaps and may also dig to gain access to entry and exit points.
'To prevent foxes from digging, you should add a layer or two of concrete onto the ground before installing fencing or walls,' Samantha says. Alternatively, bend the bottom of the fence into an L-shape before burying it beneath the ground. This is a useful trick if you're wondering how to keep rabbits out of your yard, too.
'The majority of foxes can jump up to three feet high, so you may want to consider installing taller fencing and gates that are higher than three feet,' she adds.
3. Deter pests with prickle strips
Do you know about prickle strips? These flexible, weather-proof-plastic meshes are covered in small spikes which are uncomfortable underfoot. They're useful for stopping foxes, other pests, and pets from digging up areas of your garden, whilst still allowing plants to grow.
They're not harmful to the animals, but will deter them. And installation is simple – just place them slightly below ground level, spikes facing upwards, and cover lightly with soil.
'Make sure you wear shoes if you decide to install those in your garden,' adds Pol Bishop of Fantastic Gardeners.
They're also useful for getting rid of squirrels – but there are more tips in our guide.
4. Add lights to your garden
'Foxes hate light,' says Pol Bishop. 'They will often get spooked and run away if any sudden lighting appears.'
You could invest in some good garden lighting ideas. But, there is an alternative option that is more likely to startle foxes – a motion-activated light.
'I strongly recommend investing in a sensitive motion sensor light and attaching it close to where the fox often goes,' Pol says. 'It's a very effective way to deter them from your garden.'
5. Install motion-activated sprinklers
Another way to startle foxes and keep them away is with water. You can buy motion-activated systems that are specifically made for deterring pests.
'These sprinklers are easy to install and use,' says Pol Bishop. 'Foxes that go by them will get an unpleasant surprise and hopefully run away.'
However, foxes are clever and after a while, will figure out where the systems are and avoid them. With this in mind, Samantha Jones recommends moving the system around every few days to catch visiting foxes unaware.
- Looking for more tips for pest control? Our guides on how to get rid of aphids and how to get rid of slugs are full of useful advice for protecting your plants.
6. Try an ultrasonic fox repellent
These motion-activated devices emit a series of ultrasonic sounds (which humans can't hear) and sometimes flashing lights, which can startle foxes in your yard and cause them to run away. You can find solar-powered ones for extra convenience but ones that are mains powered are generally more effective.
'Each product has unique features and is more or less effective at what they do, so I recommend thoroughly investigating each product and what they offer,' says Pol Bishop.
What smells do foxes hate?
'Foxes have a very strong sense of smell, which is beneficial to them in some ways,' says Samantha Jones. They tend to leave their scent in areas to mark their territory.
However, you can use their sensitivity to smell to your advantage.
One way to do so is by masking the fox scent with something they hate. The smells of chilli pepper and garlic are said to help keep foxes away and some people mix them with water to use as sprays around their yard. It's best to test any homemade sprays out on a small area first, whether you're using it on plants or paving, to ensure it doesn't cause damage.
For an easier solution, opt for a commercial fox repellent. Scoot, available on Amazon, is a well-known one in the UK that is non-toxic and biodegradable. It mimics scent-marking odors, leading foxes to believe that a competitor has taken over the territory. For best results, you'll want to apply it regularly, always following the packet instructions.
Are foxes dangerous?
Foxes are generally wary of humans (unless someone has been feeding them) and are not a danger as they are more likely to flee than fight.
They can, however, prey on small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs as well as chickens, so if you keep these in your yard, be sure that their hutches and enclosures are safe and secure.
Although uncommon, foxes can spread rabies (but bats, racoons and skunks are much more likely to carry the disease). Still, if you think your pet has been bitten by a fox, it should be taken to a vet immediately. Likewise, in the unlikely event that you are bitten, wash it well with warm soapy water and seek medical advice as soon as possible.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.
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