Controlling, deterring and trapping foxes the humane way

This fox is suffering with mange and will die within four months if left untreated. Meanwhile spreading the disease to other animals including your pet dog.

 

Feeding the fox will not cure the problem but will prolong the agony.

10 Questions and Answers about foxes

 

  • 1: What is Sarcoptic mange? It is the horrible condition that kills foxes and can be caught by domestic dogs. The mites breed on the surface of the skin and the female burrows through the foxes skin to lay eggs. When the eggs hatch as larvae they burrow to the surface of the skin where they travel around the animal’s body feeding, eventually starting a new generation of mites. The mites prefer skin with little hair, causing the fox or dog to lose hair and go patchy bald as the condition worsens, eventually colonising the whole body. The fox dies a painful miserable death.
  • 2: What to do with a fox infected with mange? It's cruel and not a good idea if you have a pet dog to leave the infected fox to die. In four months an untreated dog or fox is likely to be dead. If you suspect you have a diseased fox visiting your garden a cage trap is a humane way of catching the animal and transporting it to the vet for treatment or disposal. For more information Please see the paragraph on Sarcoptic Mange further down this page.
  • 3: Will a fox kill my cat, rabbits or guinea pigs? Very rare, foxes and cats usually ignore each other. The cat is more likely to be killed in a road accident, but foxes will sometimes kill rabbits and other small pets when they are rearing cubs. This can be very easily avoided by keeping rabbits and guinea pigs in strong hutches with a lock that cannot be knocked open.
  • 4: Can my dog catch Mange from a fox? Yes, Mange can be caught by pet dogs and can be fatal within four months if not treated. Fortunately, there are several good treatments for this parasite and the disease can be controlled. Consult your vet as soon as you suspect Sarcoptic Mange
  • 5: What's the best humane way to trap a fox? Cage traps are a humane way of catching foxes in your garden. It is illegal and cruel to trap foxes using snares or spring traps. For more information about fox traps Please see the paragraph on trapping foxes further down this page.
  • 6: What other diseases are carried by foxes?  Foxes also spread Toxacarisis (causing blindness in children) and can carry Weils disease, against which dogs should be vaccinated.
  • 7: Can a fox attack my baby, children or adults? It is rare and unusual, but driven by mange and hunger and if cornered, a fox as a last resort, may try to bite its attacker. However, this is easily prevented, by not trying to approach or pick foxes up. We can never say never after the recent media reports on the attacks on two babies. The best defence is not to encourage foxes anywhere near your house. I have covered how to deter foxes later on this page. 
  • 8: What does the Law say about killing or trapping foxes? Dealing with urban foxes is complicated. They are protected under a series of wildlife laws and it is only permissible to control numbers in very limited ways. Licenced shooting is legal, poison cannot be legally used to cull foxes, use of any gas to kill foxes is illegal, traps with teeth have been illegal in this country since 1954, self tightening snares are cruel and illegal, Cage traps are legal and a humane way to trap foxes. For more information about the law. Please see the paragraph on what's illegal and what is legal further down this page.
  • 9: There are several ways of deterring foxes from coming into your garden without harming the fox. The argument in favour of deterring foxes rather than killing is that killing or trapping and moving foxes is pointless anyway in urban areas.  Another fox will quickly take its place. The easiest way to get rid of foxes is for you and your neighbours to stop feeding them and to make sure all bins containing food are securely closed. More further down this page.
  • 10: If you see a fox with mange in your garden the kindest thing to do is to trap it and take it to your vet to be treated or put down.

What's the law regards trapping foxes?

Dealing with urban foxes is complicated. They are protected under a series of wildlife laws and it is only permissible to control numbers in very limited ways. Even then methods such as shooting often aren't appropriate in urban areas. 
Here's what the law says regards killing or trapping foxes .
  • Poison: Poison cannot be legally used to cull foxes. Use of a poison to kill foxes could lead to a large fine or imprisonment. Poisoning a fox is illegal.
  • Gassing:  Again the use of any gas to kill foxes is illegal. 
  • Spring traps Cannot be used against foxes and traps with teeth have been illegal in this country since 1954 for all animals. 
  • Free running snare: Can be legally used to catch foxes, but is subject to a lot of restrictions in urban areas. 
  • Self tightening snare: Is illegal.  
  • Fox Cage traps: Cage traps are legal and designed to humanely trap foxes in your garden, to transport the fox to the vet to be put down or treated for mange. Where can I purchase a fox trap, see below.
  • Humane deterrence:  More about this method later on this page.

What's a humane and legal way to trap a fox?

  • A very strong trap. Special springs have been used. This the cage is faster than most others.
  • Fully assembled galvanized steel trap. Resistant to any weather conditions.
  • Specially designed for catching foxes,
  • The trap is practically indestructible. Withstand the pressure of several dozen pounds. The trap works in all conditions even on an uneven surface, etc.

Humane ways of getting rid of foxes.

There are several ways of dealing with foxes in ways that will stop them coming into your garden without harming the fox.
The argument in favour of deterring foxes rather than killing, is that killing or trapping and moving foxes is pointless anyway in urban areas because another fox will quickly take its place.
 
This method of deterring foxes is based on the fact that a fox is obviously more likely to hang out in a garden where it is welcome than a garden where it is not. Foxes repeat behaviour day after day and if an area becomes hostile they will move somewhere else.
 
How does humane deterrence work? 
Foxes constantly mark there territory and the moment it stops being marked, it is obvious to others foxes that the territory has become vacant and they move in.
 
The humane approach is about disturbing a fox's normal behaviour, letting it visit the garden, leave its scent but encouraging it to quickly move on to another part of its territory. This will probably be a neighbours garden who may like foxes visiting, but if they don't, they can take the same "fox unfriendly action" This means its scent will still be left around the area so other foxes won't move in. 
 
A fox's territory can cover up to 40 acres and in urban areas can include up to 400 gardens, so if you deter it from your garden it will have another 399 to choose from.  It might only move to a garden a few doors down, but that neighbour might welcome the fox
 
Methods used are often as simple as just good housekeeping. Making sure scraps of food are not left around, bin bags are stored in a bin or shed until rubbish collection day. Areas where foxes could rest up like old sheds or sheets of timber stacked against walls make great hideouts for foxes and should be cleared away.
 
Motion-activated sprinklers that repel foxes with a short startling burst of water are very effective in scaring foxes off.
 
Water deterrents – devices like the Scarecrow work using sensors; when a fox gets within range water is sprayed from the device, startling and scaring away the fox. If strategically placed at the edges of gardens or by fox holes, these can effectively stop foxes coming back to your garden.
 
Fox deterrent sprays.  Foxes scent-mark to show their dominance and warn other foxes off, however, where the ‘scent-mark’ cannot be identified and contested, an animal may become nervous and choose to avoid the area. In effect, repellents use the animal’s own ammunition against it. A range of fox repellent brands are available, such as ‘Scoot’ and ‘Get out of my garden.
 
Prickle strips (spiky strips) strategically placed around sheds and decking will deter foxes from hiding underneath. Better warn the kids though!

Products available to humanely deter foxes from a garden

Humane repellents to keep foxes out of your garden. 

 

I have tested these fox repellents myself. Follow the instructions on the pack and they really do work in their different ways to deter and repel foxes.

Scoot, described in more detail below, works by mimicking the scent of foxes, cats and dogs ignore it.

The other two methods a motion activated water spray and the ultrasonic pest repellent with strobe light, again more detail below, work by scaring foxes away from your garden. However, will also scare pet cats and dogs.

Humane "mix with water" fox repellent"
  • This repellent is recommended by Councils as a means of deterring foxes.
  • For use on lawns, trees, shrubs, bulbs, paths and patios.
  • It is easy to apply, but instructions must be followed to the letter to be successful.
  • Its a humane way to keep foxes out of your garden working by mimicking the scent of a fox.
When I first tested this repellent it seemed to attract foxes instead of deterring them. The manufacturers explained that the product works by mimicking the scent of a fox and  the foxes were scenting over the stuff to reclaim their territory. I persevered, following the instructions on the packet  and sure enough the foxes gave up.
Down-side, It is not cheap and has to be reapplied after raining.
Pro-side, It only works on foxes so won't scare off your cat or other wildlife.
 

Motion Activated Animal Deterrent

  • Motion activated sprinkler for humane fox deterrence.
  • Detects and sprays foxes in a 1000 sq/ft area day and night.
  • Repel cats, dogs, foxes, squirrels, rabbits and herons.
  • It is easy to use.
There are several Motion activated sprinklers designed to scare foxes from your garden. This one, tested in my own garden, is a bit more expensive than others, but you get what you pay for. It is easy to connect to your hosepipe, the spray can be adjusted and most important it works to deter foxes.
The downside as with all motion activated deterrents, is it scares everything including cats.
 
 

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller with Strobe Light.

  • Free mains adaptor included - no batteries necessary. Can also be run on batteries, for ease of positioning.
  • Strobe light combined with ultrasonic repeller will frighten and repel pests, but will not bother people (or pets within the house).
  • Two very effective fox deterrents in one.
This fox deterrent combines an ultrasonic sound repellent and strobe lighting, so you get two methods of repelling foxes from your garden. As it says in the instructions, it will scare off foxes as soon as they sense it. However,  takes a few days for the fox to realise it is not worth entering your garden and so is deterred.   

How can I make a garden fox proof?

You cannot  physically stop a fox getting into your garden!
It is almost impossible, the urban fox can climb over fences and walls up to twelve foot high, even higher if they can get a foothold. So unless you turn your garden  into a fortress, you won't keep them out.

 

The best and easiest way to keep foxes out of your garden is to stop feeding them and to make sure all food bins are closed.

 

What is fox mange(sarcoptic mange)

The main disease problem in foxes is Sarcoptic Mange, commonly known as fox mange.
Symptoms to look for; 
  • Crust on the skin, fur loss and bare patches around rump and tail .
  • Scratching and chewing of limbs.
  • In the final stages, face and ears get very crusty, eyes appear sunken and the animal becomes very lethargic.
  • Saecoptic mange can be caught by pet dogs and can be fatal within four months if not treated.
  • Fortunately, there are several good treatments for this parasite and the disease can be controlled. 
  • Foxes also spread Toxacarisis (causing blindness in children) and can carry Weils disease, against which dogs should be vaccinated.

What can I do to stop my dog catching fox mange?

What can I do to stop my dog catching fox mange?
Most foxes and domestic pet dogs contract mange from contact with an infected individual. However, the mites can survive in the environment, often in dens or narrow passages that an infected fox has squeezed through a hole in the fence. Any fox or dog passing the same way could get infected. 
If you see a fox with mange visiting your garden and can trap it. The kindest thing to do is take the fox to your vet to be put down or treated.
Removing fox mess and loose hair, etc. every day will help reduce the risk of infecting your dog.

What can I do for a fox suffering from Sarcoptic Mange?

 

 

Mange treatment can be given to foxes that have been cage trapped and taken to a vet and are usually successful. The treatment by a vet involves either a single 'spot-on' dose of Stronghold or Advocate (5 - 10k) or two injections of Ivomec or Panomec (.125ml) given over a two-week period. Both treatments are best applied in conjunction with a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Baytril, Synulox or Noroclav to combat skin infection.

 

To avoid the stress of capture. Providing, you can obtain veterinary support. A fox suffering from minor mange could be treated in its own environment from your garden with Ivomec, Panomec or a single 25k Stronghold or Advocate applied orally in food.

 

However, these treatments may be dangerous to pets and to suckling fox cubs, so this is risky during the fox breeding season, which is between mid-February and early April, or if you have domestic pets using or visiting your garden. The veterinary surgeon would certainly require your assurance of a predictable feeding pattern.

 

If neither trapping nor treating on site with veterinary medication is possible,

  • What else can we do for the fox? 
  • Rather than risk other animals and pets that visit your garden and ingesting a high-level of potentially dangerous veterinary products.
  • A safer option can be used. The Fox Project and The National Fox Welfare Society (NFWS) recommends  a homoeopathic remedy consisting of arsenicum 30c and sulphur 30c. 
  • This treatment is proven to be very effective on foxes suffering up to 40% mange. Less so on foxes suffering more than 40% visible mange.

 

Where to get the Sarcoptic Mange Treatment

NFWS National Fox Welfare Society

Online. Go to https://www.national-fox-welfare.com/homeopathic-potion-request

Telephone. 01933411996.

I have no association at all with the NFWS. However, I know they do a great job and are short of funds. So, make sure you donate at least a tenner when ordering the mange treatment.

How to give the mange treatment to foxes

The mange treatment is a homeopathic remedy that works against Sarcoptic Mange in foxes. Since the remedy is made up of natural ingredients there is no fear of overdosing and nothing to worry about if a non-infected fox or other animal or bird takes the treatment.

 

To avoid cats stealing the treatment meant for the fox, we, well Marijke, added the drops daily to jam sandwiches. Foxes love jam, cats don't! We had more than one fox suffering from mange visiting our garden so we scattered several treated jam sandwiches around the garden each day.

Dosage. Four drops daily for each fox you are treating.

Treatment. After three or four weeks, you should see less scratching and biting and eventually new hair will start to grow back. At this stage treatment can stop.

Follow the instructions that come with the pack.

 

Make sure to donate at least a tenner to the National Fox Welfare Society when ordering the mange treatment.

 

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