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Debate: Are foxes a problem for pet owners?

Debate: Are foxes a problem for pet owners?

Foxes are thriving in our cities, and despite their reputation for raiding bins, digging up lawns and making loud mating calls, a survey carried out by Channel 4’s Foxes Live programme showed that the vast majority of people in Britain like foxes.

We want to know what pet owners think. Do foxes cause a nuisance for you and your pet, or are they welcome visitors to your neighbourhood?

According to the RSPCA, the number of incidents of foxes attacking adult cats is low. And despite both being active at night, cats and foxes tend to avoid each other. Even if they were to fight, the sharp claws and teeth of an adult cat mean they are more than capable of defending themselves.

Adult foxes are protective of their young – so if you suspect cubs are close to your home, the RSPCA advises keeping your cat indoors at night as a precaution until the cubs have grown up and the family has moved on.

Mange is a common problem for foxes, and it is true that dogs could catch the disease from them. But the RSPCA says that it is highly unlikely that a pet dog would come into close enough contact with a live fox for this to happen. If your dog were to touch the body of a dead fox that had mange, there is a greater chance that it could get the disease. However, it is relatively easy to treat.

Given the opportunity, foxes will kill small domestic pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters. If you keep these pets outdoors, they need to be housed in a secure hutch.

Chicken wire provides little protection from a determined fox, so strong weld-mesh, with sturdy door fasteners and a secure lock (not a catch that might be knocked open) is a necessity. It should also be positioned on a solid floor so that foxes cannot dig underneath. Exercise runs should also have secure lids of strong weld-mesh.

If you are concerned about foxes causing a problem for you and your pet, the best thing is to discourage them from coming near your home in the first place. Here are Petplan’s top tips for keeping foxes away:

1. Do not feed them – either intentionally or unintentionally. Make sure they cannot get to food left out for other wildlife or pets.

2. Provide food for wild birds on fox-proof (roofed) bird tables or in feeders.

3. Clear up windfall fruit.

4. Use securely sealed dustbins.

5. Prevent access to underneath your shed as this could provide shelter or a location for digging an earth to raise cubs. If you find a fox den, don’t fill it unless you are sure it’s empty. To check, lightly block the entrance with loose soil or sticks, through which a fox can easily get through. If after a few days the holes are still blocked, pack them more thoroughly with soil. Be especially careful in the spring to avoid blocking cubs into an earth.

6. Put up fences around your garden or use prickly plants.

7. Use a repellent that has been approved for use with foxes. The use of anything other than an approved product as a repellent may be illegal.

8. Keep your garden tidy. Foxes are attracted to overgrown gardens that provide shelter – especially for mothers and cubs.

What do you think: are foxes a problem for you and your pet? Let us know by commenting in the box below.

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Daniel Stainer
yep they are iv had one rabbit eaten and my dog has been in a fight with one .
Sheila Amies-Byron
All creatures are welcome in our back garden. My dog, Lex, is bigger than most foxes at 5stones and she would not attack one anyway. Leave the foxes alone and treat them with respect as they deserve.
Denise Earley
No, they are NOT a problem. I live in the middle of portsmouth, we have 2 rescued ducks, a rabbit and an old rescued hen. The foxes quite often visit our garden, but we have never lost one pet to them because we make sure they are in a safe enclosure. Basic common sense is all thats needed. I have seen them catching RATS in the street at night, Yes, they sometimes dig, but so does cats, and dogs....they don't smash bottles all over the parks and vandalise the fence, grafitti on the walls, etc., They do a good job, clearing up humans rubbish thrown in the street.
Foxes are amazing and beautiful animals and despite being a cat owner I am not fearful of foxes attacking my cat as they have never give much such cause for concern. They truely are a marvel of suburban and city wildlife.
Denise Earley
Well said. Sooner see foxes in my garden than rats...x
I don't mind foxes they are part of our wildlife. There's one on my street and he's about half the size of all the cats in the neighbourhood. They seem to live quite peacefully together. Don't agree with fox hunting one bit.
I Love Foxes!
We had foxes regularly visiting our garden for over 20 years I use to feed them. The only incident I ever had was when one stole my sons welly lol. As for attacking cats next doors cat would often chase the foxes off I never seen a fox confront a cat. I am heart broken that the foxes no longer come and have no idea as to why they've stopped in the last 2 years.
Melanie Ceazar-Taylor
I have had many of my (rescue) rabbits and guinea pigs slaughtered by foxes (even though they were very securely housed) - and a previous next-door neighbour kept chickens, ducks, quail, rabbits & guinea pigs which seemed to attract them here. I know of local dog owners who have had to pay a small fortune to vets to cure mange which their pets have contracted through contact with areas that foxes have infected. A vixen recently began to dig an earth in my garden, and although I filled it in many times, she persisted in digging it - until we had our Bonfire Night burn-up close by. My two chihuahuas have often barked to see the foxes off, and I have to accompany them in the back garden at night when they need to relieve themselves - just in case the fox turns on them. So a very big NO I don't like foxes, though I couldn't bring myself to harm one.
you seem to have a huge issue with them, where about do you live?
Josephine Cox
Totally agree with Sheila and Denise - foxes will always be welcome in my garden even though I have a dog and two cats. I have in the past befriended a fox in my garden and all but hand fed it - a terrific feeling of trust and respectg.
yes bring back foxhunting as it kept numbers down, well most do it anyway. or shoot them as more human i guess, just hate em
jill heaton
As children, we grew up with foxes. we had them as pets & we loved them. They are like puppys, we had one for seven years before he decided he wanted to go back into the wilds. beutiful animals!!!
Adrian Horne
No issue at all. We are on the edge of the countryside north of Wolverhampton, surrounded by woodland belonging to various 'Halls' but still very populated. We hear Dog foxes regularly and, walking my dogs, see them every night. My 2 are snowdogs - Inuit and Malamute - and seem very attracted to them, often being allowed quite close. I haven't heard, or seen, any problems with them even though I keep Barn Owls, I just accept the fact that it's their property (and they kill to live) so I build my aviaries with that in mind. There is no fault in foxes, they are just part of nature and act appropriately.
Foxes cause no problem where I live on the edge of the West Midlands. It is wonderful to see them and it makes me happy every time I do.
Marie Hall
I have had fox visitors for years and feed them scraps..and all my cats and neighbours cats or dogs have never came to any harm...Leave them alone they keep the vermin down and clear up the food rubbish which drunks leave outside chip shops etc I love foxes :)
Lisa Barmby
Foxes cause no problem where i live, i love to see them early in a morning when i walk my dogs.
i have a big problem with foxes iam afraid they have killed most my chickens and bit the heads of my ducks and this was during the day and not night time . I can understand they have to eat and its down to me to make sure my animals are safe at night but during the day!!! while they are free ranging is a bit much . they have also taken some kittens and this was right in front of me!!! so no i dont like foxes if they just took one wouldnt be so bad but they killed the lot and just left them .
I have a bit of a love / hate thing with foxes as my cocker spaniel, Bertie, loves rolling in their poo !!!!!!!
J Baillie
My sister in laws neighbour feeds foxes and they leave her three dogs and cat alone, however...they have chewed through my SIL's car brake cable and recently left her without telephone acess due to chewing cables!
I like foxes just ever seen one in my garden playing i had a dog her father was a fox she looked like a fox and barked like a fox and was a mule when she was in heat the dogs took no notice of her unbelievable i know but true
I lost a bunny rabbit to a prowling fox, but I still like the creatures, I just don't want a repeat of what happened. They are living in our cities now, whether we want them or not.
Mary Smith
I feed four foxes every night when I am walking my dog, they patrol the area outside our estate waiting on us. My dog sits and watches them, as long as he gets something too he is quite happy.
I don´t think foxes are a danger to people and pets if these learn to live with them. They were here before all this housing was built, are beautiful shy animals, that many times I see walking down the street, or going into the allotments at night and in the morning when I walk into the train station. Foxes are clever and to a certain extent learn which humans are their friends. And to be honest although I would worry if I had a small pet outdoors, I would make sure it would be properly protected. The only ones I worry about are the neighbors cats, but is due to the owners negligence that they get into potentially dangerous meetings...if they had some sense and looked after their pets rather than abandoning them day and night outdoors this would not happen. Lets face it if you lived for instance in the States, or Japan, or in some regions in europe where you have bears wouldn´t you be a bit more cautious with your home and pets given the fact that there are wild animals around?
I like to see foxes in my suburban area. It is just up to us as pet owners to take sensible precautions. Our rabbit run is fox secure, so no problem. We can't blame the fox if we give it the opportunity!
No they are not a pest - they are part of an ecosystem which we humans have destroyed - we are the pests on this planet not foxes. Foxes are intelligent animals and keep rats under control which we humans again encourage. Like people have said they dont vandalise, graffiti or beat each other up. They may attack cats but thats nature and we can do what we can to ensure they stay elusive .The animals will one day inherit the planet and foxes too - humans are destroying it and we have no right to determine which spieces are pests or not.
understand your concerns, predator animals will always be attracted to prey animals in the wild or domestic settings - but you said something very compassionate about not bringing yourself to harm one. I dont think anyone on this forum would see any cruelty if the animals was then taken back to the den to feed the cubs ..foxes do retrieve their kill and return elusively - studies hwve shown that and since when did nature waste like we do? 10 billion gbp of food thrown out each year - i will take meat but place it a good distance from the house and it goes.. live and let live. am sorry about the rabbits and guineas - i keep them and never had a problem as they are secure in welded steel hutches - solid concrete floors and battended down as are their runs - i have seen my foxes ignore them as they have managed to find something to east.
havre you seen how many pets are abanadoned or drowned killed by us and how many dogs are fought by humans or set upon by other dogs because of the way their owners have treated them? in perspective they cases are miniscule compared with foxes attacking other animals..
sorry meant 'compared with miniscule attacks by foxes' the animals will come back for their prey but are wary when doing it..
rub very hot chilli paste on exposed cables - works they will be put off ot sheath - both work
Angela s
Foxes deserve to live freely without harm just as much as any other animal does. I was absolutely incensed last week when a young girl of 21 told me she hunted as a sport with the local hound club. Didn't deny they hunted for fox and her response was 'they are horrible animals anyway, they kill chickens for fun'. Height of ignorance, miseducation and lack of empathy on her part. I don't associate with people who can sit by and watch an animal suffer in such a horrific manner all in the name of sport. I do keep rabbits as pets and don't have the issue of foxes coming into the garden, if I did the rabbits would simply move indoors.
Angela s
I was told foxes couldn't mate with dogs as they are genetically incompatible thus no embryos would develop???
No, foxes are not a problem & should certainly NOT be culled. We (humans) destroy the habitat of so many creatures with our building, farming etc that it's no real surprise that they start 'invading' our space. I have pet rabbits and, as we regularly have foxes visiting our garden, they are kept indoors as house-rabbits - common sense really as a fox would, without doubt, be unable to resist a ready-meal in an outdoor hutch!Any animal, wild or domesticated, could have bitten that baby - it probably smelt the possibility of food - it could just have easily been a rat, squirrel or even a bird that got into the baby's room and caused some damage and there have been several cases of the family dog attacking & even killing a child, but we don't call for all dogs to be culled.I am just waiting for the 'follow-up' to this case, as I'm sure there'll be a call to allow fox-hunting again, as the numbers 'need to be controlled'.
As has been stated before it is our responsibility to look after our pets and that includes keeping them safe from predators. If a fox hurt my rabbits or guinea pigs that would be MY fault, not the fox's. House your small pets securely and keep cats indoors - stops them torturing and slaughtering wildlife, fighting and getting run over. Our local school recently suffered a horrendous attack; the annexe where they housed the school pets was set on fire by vandals and all the animals burned to death. I would sooner cull the vandals than the local urban foxes!
Susanna Alford
Sorry Tina but that does not sound like a fox, they are shy and nocturnal by nature. For a fox to be out in daylight it would have to be very hungry and possibly feeding young so would not have left a kill behind. Unlike humans our lovely fox only kills to eat, i suspect what you thought was a fox was in reality a terrier dog as some of the terrier type dogs can look very simular to a fox i had one myself as a child and brought up wrongly they will kill just for the sport - a bit like humans ;-(
To those who say "bring back hunting to control numbers" I say hunting isn't about controlling numbers, it is about satisfying the blood lust of a tiny minority of the country set.l
A fox is becoming a big problem for me whilst I'm out walking my 14 month old border collie . My dog is very friendly and enjoys playing with other dogs and children. However the foxes near me are chasing after us and it's very scary when I'm out. I'm really worried about the fox attacking my dog . Has any one any ideas . I used to think foxes were shy and scared but not the ones that live in our local park and surrounding area they are very scary .
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