“I know and understand that, whilst for me, these wonderful animals are a consistent source of joy, for others they can be a ‘nuisance’.”– Chris Packham
“How bad can foxes be?!” sneered a skeptical friend of mine, who, I quickly established, had never experienced foxes coming into his garden in his life.
That was shortly after I moved to South London in 2007 and encountered urban foxes for the first time.
I suppose my friend’s reaction was understandable. It’s not until you encounter foxes on a regular basis that you realise just how disruptive their behaviour can be.
And, as this FRE reader found out, foxes can be really disruptive:
“We have a fox intent on eating the emissions sensor on our 4X4 vehicle that is a month old. So far it has cost £700 to replace the part and within a week of repair, the cable had been chewed through again! Help!“ – Jane, Hampshire
Not that getting irritated by chewed wiring, flattened flowers, pooped-on patios or dug-up lawns means that we wish any harm to foxes.
On the contrary, most of us simply want to find a humane way of stopping foxes doing the things that annoy us, without resorting to extreme measures.
“I am so deeply grateful for your help. My poor cat is terrified to go out, but an angry neighbour has threatened to have the ‘orange hell beast’ shot! I would hate to see the cheeky bastard murdered since it’s only doing what’s in its nature.” – Moya, London
Calling out a pest control specialist is expensive and needlessly causes the death of an innocent animal. It also doesn’t solve the problem, as another fox will soon realise the territory is vacant and move in.
We want to be humane and we want to solve the problem. So what fox deterrents should we use to reclaim our garden and make it a fox-free zone?
Beware of outdated information
Finding that out proved to be more difficult than I thought when I first started tackling the foxes in my garden.
I spent hours searching online but I found the ‘advice’ was mostly a mixture of outdated information and unhelpful nastiness:
• “My Grandad swears by Creosote” (Banned in 2003)
• “Soak rags in Renardine.” (Banned in 2005)
• “Mothballs. That’ll sort it.” (Banned in 2008)
• “Send them back to the country where they belong.” (Abandonment of Animals Act 1960)
• “The only good fox is a dead fox. Use a 6 bore.” (Discussed above)
• “I just wee in my garden.” (It’s to repel foxes, Constable)
In all, I wasted about two years and a small fortune trying to find the ‘magic bullet’ (excuse the pun) that would rid foxes from my garden for good.
Needless to say I didn’t find it.
I was inconsistent in my efforts, I didn’t have a clear strategy and, to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Consequently, foxes were still pooing on the patio, digging under the decking and destroying the daffodils.
Know Your Enemy – Knowledge is Power
The major turning point came when I picked up the excellent Urban Foxes by Professor Stephen Harris, head of the Mammal Research Unit at the University of Bristol.
That book taught me more about foxes in two hours than the unsuccessful battle in my garden had taught me in two years.
Armed with actual knowledge of how foxes think and behave, I was able to formulate a successful strategy which led to me converting my garden from being completely overrun into a foxy Fort Knox.
And what was the single most important piece of information that transformed my success with stopping my fox problems?
It was surprisingly simple.
Foxes don’t like feeling confused, disrupted or vulnerable.
Therefore, in order to successfully deter foxes, your garden needs to make them feel exactly that – confused, disrupted and vulnerable.
If a fox gets a whiff of danger or confrontation, they would rather run away to safety than face a situation that risks injury or even death.
The 3 Step Fox Deterrent Strategy
a) Locate the fox’s entry point
Working out where a fox comes into your garden is one of the biggest tactical advantages you can have in the battle to keep foxes away on a long-term basis.
This is because the entry point is where the fox decides whether or not it’s safe to enter your garden.
If the entrance looks, sounds and smells safe, the fox will decide, ‘Yes, all seems fine. I’m going in.‘
This is probably how the fox views your garden at the moment.
But if you’ve located the entry point and made it look, sound or smell unsafe through the use of fox deterrents, the fox will think ‘No, this doesn’t feel right. I better move on.‘
Creating doubt and suspicion at the entry point ensures the fox’s ‘sensory alarms’ are triggered immediately, before it has even set foot in your garden.
You’ll be nipping the issue in the bud, putting the fox off before it gets the chance to foul, dig or cause any other problems that you’ve been experiencing.
Once you’ve located the entry point, (which shouldn’t be too difficult – foxes will almost always enter in the same place), you need to make this area as unwelcoming as possible.
b) Use more than one type of deterrent
To make it very clear that foxes are not welcome in your garden, it’s worth using two different fox deterrents.
It’s important these two deterrents target different senses from one another.
For example, if you use two scent-based deterrents, both products will put a fox on alert via its sense of smell. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s much better than doing nothing.
However, if you add an ultrasonic device into the mix and use it along with a scent-based deterrent, the fox will be alerted via its sense of hearing and via its sense of smell. Danger signals to two senses rather than only one.
If two separate instincts are warning a fox there’s potential danger in your garden, you’ll have much more success in convincing it your garden is too high-risk to proceed into.
c) Be persistent
One traffic jam wouldn’t make you stop using your preferred route to work. But repeated traffic jams day after day would probably cause you to consider an alternative route.
Foxes work the same way. Your garden is part of its route as it does the rounds of its territory.
If you only use a fox deterrent once, the fox will quickly realise it was just a one-off inconvenience and will soon be back to invade your garden as normal.
But use a fox deterrent repeatedly and the fox will quickly understand the disruption is permanent.
It’s through persistent use of fox deterrent that you’ll change the way the fox views your garden.
Repeated disruption will cause the fox to associate your garden with danger, risk and uncertainty, altering the map of its territory in order to avoid it, ultimately stopping the problems that have been driving you mad!
The Top 10 Fox Deterrent List
You’ve found the entry point, you know the fox needs to feel vulnerable and you know you need to be persistent.
Now, it’s time to take action and select the actual deterrents that will change the atmosphere of your garden and put an end to clearing up fox poo, filling in holes, replanting flowers and a variety of other fox-related problems.
Below, each deterrent is described in terms of how it works, how to use it effectively and how to buy it without leaving your house.
#1 – The FoxWatch Ultrasonic Deterrent – £69.95
The FoxWatch is an ultrasonic device that targets a fox’s sense of hearing by unleashing three very high-pitched bursts of noise every time a fox crosses its motion sensor.
It’s number 1 on this list for several important reasons:
Firstly, foxes hate the noise. They have very sensitive hearing and sudden blasts of noise at 45kHz gives them a huge fright.
The noise itself can be considered the fox equivalent of running your nails down a blackboard. Fortunately it’s inaudible to humans.
Secondly, it’s very easy to set up, taking less than 5 minutes to connect the mains adaptor (or a 9 volt battery) and place in your garden, ideally facing the area the fox gets in.
Thirdly, it’s very low maintenance and takes the hard work out of being persistent.
You don’t need to spray anything, you don’t need to refill anything and, if you use the mains adapter, you don’t even need to replace the batteries.
You simply place it at your preferred spot and let it provide a constant deterrent, scaring foxes whether you are in or out, day or night.
The FoxWatch is manufactured in the UK and has become a favourite of people desperate to solve their fox problems, but with little spare time to do so.
We now sell the FoxWatch in our store complete with mains adapter, free UK delivery, full set-up instructions and 2 year manufacturers warranty.
#2 – Scoot Fox Deterrent MultiPack – RRP £32
Scoot Fox Deterrent is an ammonia-based powder that targets a fox’s sense of smell.
Scoot works by taking advantage of the way foxes scent-mark their territory, by spraying urine or fouling.
Foxes scent-mark for many reasons, but one of the most important is to tell neighbouring foxes who the area belongs to.
Scoot is specially formulated to disguise the fox’s own scent markings, giving the impression that another animal is muscling in and taking over the territory.
This makes the fox feel very vulnerable and, in time, will lead to the fox vacating the territory to avoid conflict.
Scoot is a very effective fox deterrent, but you must use it persistently and consistently. The fox is likely to be back again to see if this ‘new predator’ is still around, so you will need to respray it several times to keep up the pretence.
If there is heavy rainfall, you should also reapply the Scoot to ensure the necessary potency is still there.
To use Scoot, you simply mix the powder with water and spray the solution around the fox’s entry point, and other areas you’ve seen the fox. You can use a watering can or garden sprayer to distribute it.
Each pack comes with 2 x 50g sachets of the Scoot powder and dilution instructions.
If you’re happy to put in the extra effort involved, then Scoot is an excellent deterrent option.
#3 – Scarecrow Motion Sprinkler – RRP £70
The ScareCrow is a motion-activated device that shoots out a jet of water when a fox crosses its sensor.
As it shoots out the water (in an arc shape), the unit also makes a clicking noise, scaring the fox via its sense of touch and via its sense of hearing.
On the positive side, the ScareCrow is a very effective animal deterrent and is highly popular in the UK and North America.
It has an excellent build quality, compared to some cheaper alternatives, and you can control the sensitivity of the sensor, so that it is not set off unnecessarily by tiny, insignificant movements (e.g. birds).
The ScareCrow is easy to set up, simply connecting to a hosepipe and sticking it into the ground facing the area you want to protect.
(Always leave enough room behind it, so you can switch it off without getting a soaking!)
On the downside, some people complain that the clicking noise, caused by the ScareCrow launching into action, can become annoying at night, especially if your bedroom is above the area you’ve installed it.
Foxes are very active at night, so it’s important you have a deterrent that can do its job without disrupting your sleep.
I don’t think the noise is particularly intrusive but if you think you might be affected by it, then consider whether the Scarecrow is right for you.
Another potential issue is the Canadian company that produces the Scarecrow, Contech, went bankrupt in 2015. This has meant the production has been inconsistent and the Scarecrow is not always available to buy in the UK.
Below I have linked through to the Scarecrow purchase page on Amazon. If it’s in stock and you are keen to use this product, then snap one up while you can. Alternatively, see the PestBye Jet Sprayer at #10, which is a popular alternative.
#4 – Get Off My Garden – RRP £6
Get Off My Garden is a green, jelly-like substance that contains a strong smell of Citronella Oil, a popular ingredient in many scent-based deterrents.
Get Off is officially labelled as a cat and dog repellent, but it is equally effective against foxes, who also dislike the smell.
If you have a small-scale problem, where foxes are pooing in a certain area of your garden, then this is a very effective deterrent.
It’s most commonly used on lawns, flower beds and vegetable patches, areas which foxes like to use as a toilet to the annoyance of many budding gardeners.
To apply, remove the poo and put the jelly on and around the affected area. You’ll usually need to do this a few times, but if you’re persistent, you’re very likely to see some positive results.
Get Off can also be used to discourage foxes from digging in certain areas as well. When you replace the dirt in the hole, add in some Get Off and mix it in well with the soil. The area will smell strongly of citronella, acting as an excellent deterrent to stop them digging up there again.
Get Off is an effective and well-priced fox deterrent which is definitely recommended for those with very small gardens or yards, or for those with a mild fox poo or digging problem.
If you have a bigger garden or quite a persistent fox issue, you would be better off using one of the other deterrents above, perhaps using Get Off as a supplementary option when needed.
#5 – All Weather Jobsite Radio – RRP £50 – £100
A radio might initially seem like a strange choice for a fox deterrent, conjuring up amusing images of foxes being repulsed by endless repeats of Justin Bieber on commercial radio.
However, there is method to the madness, and the use of a radio to deter foxes has become increasingly popular ever since BBC Radio 4’s Today Show talked about it in 2011.
It was popularised by Abbotsbury Swan Sanctuary in Dorset who successfully stopped foxes disturbing their swans by installing a series of radios tuned to Radio 4.
Radio 4 was found to be successful because it’s talking only, rather than a music station which was found to be much less effective. The foxes hear the human voices, assume people are nearby and avoid the area altogether.
If you live in a cramped inner city, it may be unpractical and anti-social for you to have a radio on in your garden day and night.
But if you have a large garden or don’t have neighbours in such close proximity, you may find success with this deterrent method.
Like the FoxWatch at #1, a radio takes the hard work out of being persistent.
You can place a radio near the entry point, tune it to a talking station and then leave it, putting foxes on high alert without you even being there.
Radios specifically designed for construction sites (commonly known as ‘Jobsite Radios’) are most suitable, because they are designed to sit outside in all weather without breaking.
You can view a range of Job Site Radios via the link below, where it’s really a case of choosing one to suit your budget.
#6 – Wall & Fence Spikes (50 Pack) – RRP £32
These rows of plastic spikes target a fox’s sense of touch by creating a very uncomfortable sensation when they try to walk on them.
The spikes are not sharp enough to harm the fox (or other wildlife), but they are very useful as part of your strategy to make the entrance to your garden as unappealing as possible.
You may have noticed that a fox enters your garden by walking along a fence or wall and jumping down onto your lawn or a flowerbed.
If this is the case, you can make the route into your garden difficult to navigate by installing the spikes.
You can fix them to ledges using screws, nails or a strong adhesive and also attach them to a piece of wood to be placed on the floor where the fox jumps down.
The ‘prickle strips’, as they’re also known, are easy to cut with a sharp knife. So if your ledges are narrower than the one in the image above, you can easily slice them down to fit.
You can also buy them in brown or green colours, so they blend into your garden without being too much of an eyesore.
Please be aware that for some persistent foxes, the plastic spikes may only slow them down rather than stop them completely.
Therefore it’s advisable to use the spikes as part of your overall strategy to create an uncomfortable atmosphere, rather than relying on them as your only fox deterrent.
#7 – Heavy Duty Tarpaulin – RRP £40 – £100
Using a tarpaulin is a fox deterrent method aimed at those who have had damage caused to your cars by foxes.
Common symptoms are scratched paintwork, torn convertible roofs, and chewed wiring, such as brake cables and emission sensors.
Not only is this annoying, the damage caused can be very expensive to fix, as this Radio 4 ‘You & Yours’ segment highlights.
You can stop foxes damaging your car’s roof or paintwork quite easily by covering your car with a tarpaulin or car cover at night.
However, stopping foxes from getting underneath your car and chewing wiring is a problem many people struggle to solve.
The following piece of advice comes from park rangers in Sequoia National Park in California to stop marmots (big squirrels) getting under cars left in the visitors car park and causing the same damage as urban foxes in the UK.
Buy a large, heavy duty tarpaulin and lay it down flat on your parking space.
Drive onto the tarpaulin and then bring it up and over the car and secure it with ropes or elasticated fasteners.
This effectively wraps up your car (see image above) making the underneath inaccessible to foxes.
When purchasing a tarpaulin to protect the underside of your car, use the same measurement process as when choosing a flat sheet for your mattress.
You need to ensure the tarpaulin is longer and wider than your car so you have enough material to wrap it over the top.
The thicker the better, as it will stop the foxes from chewing through the material.
Yes, it makes the process of parking your car more awkward, but it could save you hundreds of £’s in the long run.
#8 – Wash & Get Off Spray – RRP £8
Wash & Get Off is a disinfectant spray that is very good for cleaning the area where a fox has fouled.
Foxes commonly poo on things like shoes, children’s toys and garden furniture and a big worry for many people is the danger of faecal germs and diseases such as toxoplasmosis.
Using Wash & Get Off not only disinfects the area, it also removes the strong smell of fox poo and urine, alleviating the main objections people have to foxes fouling in their gardens.
Wash & Get Off contains Citronella so it can have a mild deterrent effect in discouraging the fox from fouling in the area again.
However, it’s main strength is for cleaning and there are better deterrents available on this list.
#9 – Prowling Fox Ornament – RRP £120
This is a very life-like fox ornament that can potentially provide a visual deterrent to real-life foxes considering coming into your garden.
For those who don’t mind foxes, this is a beautifully painted and crafted piece of work that can sit out in a garden in all weathers.
The ‘prowling fox’ is unlikely to deter foxes on its own, as smell and sound also play a vital role when a fox assesses its surroundings.
It’s advisable to use a deterrent that appears further up this list, rather than rely solely upon the fox ornament. Scoot (#2) would provide the confusing scent of a ‘new predator’ to go with the visuals.
Better to consider the prowling fox a mild deterrent that many would consider a picturesque addition to the garden, rather than the complete answer to your fox problems.
#10 – PestBye Motion Jet Spray – RRP £20
The PestBye Jet Sprayer is a very popular alternative to the market-leading Contech ScareCrow at #3 in this list.
As mentioned, the Canadian company that produces the ScareCrow has recently undergone some financial and legal issues, meaning the availability of the product in the UK has been spotty and inconsistent.
While the PestBye Jet Sprayer doesn’t have the solid, built-to-last manufacturing quality of the ScareCrow, it is much cheaper to buy and doesn’t seem to have the same supply issues.
It works in the same way as the ScareCrow, shooting out an arc-shaped jet of water when a fox crosses its motion sensor, resulting in a very effective fox deterrent.
Depending on how often it is put into use, the Jet Sprayer’s cheaper build quality may mean its lifespan is shorter. However, as it’s less than half the price of the ScareCrow, you may feel it’s worth the risk.