“What is it about my garden foxes like so much?”, you may have cried in frustration to yourself recently.
There are many reasons why foxes can find your garden so exciting and, while some are quite obvious, there may be things you were unaware of that encourage foxes to keep returning.
Having an awareness of how and why foxes behave is incredibly important to successful fox deterrence, so even if you are not a fan of foxes, you will benefit by showing an interest in how they operate.
This article aims to show you the main things that foxes find attractive in gardens and, hopefully, while reading through these points, you will have an ‘ahh that’s why they like my garden’ moment.
It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but it may give you a clue as to what’s going on in your garden and whether you need to make some slight adjustments in your efforts to deter foxes.
1. Your garden has a pool or pond
Foxes need a stable and consistent water supply just like everybody else, so they are going to keep coming back to an unprotected store of water time and again.
If you have a pool, make sure it’s securely covered when you’re not using it. If you have a pond, consider installing a pond cover.
2. Your garden is overgrown and/or full of junk
Foxes love the feeling of security and the sense of being hidden, so any opportunity to disappear from sight is very welcome.
Untended gardens and gardens full of old furniture, lawnmowers, boxes and any other junk-related objects are going to provide great hiding places for foxes.
If you have a garden that you know could be tidier, then consider clearing it up, or accept that it could be a haven for foxes.
3. You regularly feed the birds
Foxes are not particularly fussy eaters and will happily eat nuts, bread and fat, all of which are foodstuffs we commonly feed to birds.
Of course, no-one is suggesting you should stop feeding the birds, but do consider how you feed them.
If you put big chunks of fat or bread on the bird table, then you run the risk of birds knocking or dropping chunks onto the floor, which in turn attracts foxes.
Try using netted hanging nuts and dangling fat-balls to try and minimise food dropping to the floor.
4. You feed your cat or dog outside
Many cats and dogs won’t eat what you’ve put into their dish all in one go and often like to come back to finish the rest a bit later.
What this means, particularly if you feed your cat or dog outside, is there is a long period of time when very smelly food is sat unattended.
We know how smelly cat and dog food is to the human nose, so imagine the smell it gives off to foxes!
Try and be vigilant when your pet walks away from it’s dish and cover over the food or even pick it up and put it out of reach.
Your cat or dog won’t starve and they will know how to attract your attention if they want the rest, but importantly, covering or moving uneaten food will remove a huge temptation for the fox. (The same applies if you feed your cat or dog in a kitchen that has a cat-flap – some of you may have already experienced a fox coming in through the cat-flap to get that unattended food!).
5. You have a shed, summer house or other semi-permanent construction like decking
Related to the point about an overgrown garden or one that is full of junk, foxes love somewhere to hide in an emergency and also, between Nov – Feb, will be looking for a safe place to establish an earth (den).
Sheds, garages, summerhouses and wooden decking are very often seen as perfect locations for an earth as far as a fox is concerned.
These constructions have a ready-made roof over them and are often raised slightly above ground level, creating a space that feels secure enough to raise cubs. In order to stop these places being so attractive, you will need to block them up and make them inaccessible.
Please note that it is illegal (and very cruel) to block up a fox earth that is still in use, so you will need to make sure it’s empty or wait for them to vacate it before filling it in.
An easy way to check if an earth is in use is to stuff an old sheet of newspaper in the hole. If it’s still there after 2 or 3 days, you can assume it’s not being used.
6. You have rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, an aviary or other types of small animals
Although foxes don’t eat as many small animals as you might think, obviously they are still going to be tempted by the smell of small pet animals you keep in your garden.
The best thing you can do is to make sure the housing for your small pets is very secure – this means no flimsy doors or weak metal meshing, otherwise they’re going to be easy targets.
Put yourself in the position of a fox and do your best to ensure there are no areas of weakness.
Foxes are actually very wary of dogs, so you may want to go to your local doggie parlour and get some leftover dog hair as a form of repellent to strategically stuff into meshing, cracks and other nooks and crannies in your cages or chicken houses.
You may also wish to consider some good quality electric netting to protect any outdoor animal pens.
7. You have freshly dug or well-watered flower beds
Foxes love eating grubs and earthworms and cubs also love to practice digging for when they eventually have to fend for themselves.
This makes flowerbeds very tempting on both counts and as a result can leave the keen gardener very frustrated.
To try and minimise this, you can put some Get Off My Garden Repellent down if your flower beds are fairly small. (It should also help with stopping foxes and cats from fouling in the beds).
Alternatively, to cover a larger area, you could use the very effective Contech Water Scarecrow Sprinkler to keep foxes out of your flower beds.
Another option is to lay chicken wire down on the surface of the soil, where space and types of plants allow. Chicken wire is also useful to lay by fences, helping to stop foxes digging holes underneath.
8. You use blood, fish or bonemeal based fertilisers in your flower beds
Linked to the point above, we’ve already established that foxes love flower beds, so if you use any of the fertilisers above, it’s going to provide even more of an attraction.
The most important thing is to target the fox’s sense of smell and fill your flower beds with smells that are unappealing to foxes.
On a similar note, if you’ve recently buried a deceased pet in the garden then try adding a paving slab on top for 2 or 3 months to avoid the unfortunate possibility of a fox digging it back up.
9. You leave shoes, wellingtons, gardening gloves, pet toys or childrens’ toys out overnight
In short, don’t do this. All these things will have strong scents on them or be seen as something to use as chewing practice.
Fox cubs particularly like things that are left in the garden and see them as an invitation to chew, play, practise hunting or to mark their territory.
Many of you will have experience of items like this either being pooed on, urinated on, chewed or even lost, so put them away in a garage, shed or house overnight.
These things are easy to put away and instantly remove a reason for a fox to want to come into your garden.
10. Other reasons a fox may be in your garden
- You have fruit trees – Foxes love fruit, so where possible, pick up fallen fruit as often as you can. Remove the tempting food source!
- You back onto a railway – Railway lines are an easy, low-risk way for a fox to navigate suburban areas. Just try and remove temptations mentioned above, secure your fences by adding chicken wire at the foot (to stop them digging under) and maybe add trellising on the top to prevent them jumping over. Placing a FoxWatch Ultrasonic Repellent device at the point where a fox could gain entry to your garden is also a very effective deterrent.
- Your neighbour feeds foxes – Just like with birds, urban foxes don’t need to be fed, but it’s understandable that some people like to watch them in their garden. Not much you can do if a fox uses your garden to get to a neighbour who feeds them, other than follow the advice given in the point above.
- You live near a sports centre, golf course or school grounds – Popular places with foxes because they are relatively quiet and free from the smell of dogs. Again remove temptations and secure your garden as per above.
- A tip for those of you who face issues out of your control, is to place a wind-up radio tuned to a conversational station in your garden. More information on this can be found at Using A Radio as a Fox Deterrent.
Recommended Fox Repellent Products
FoxWatch Ultrasonic Fox Deterrent
The best of the ultrasonic devices because it has actually been tested on the UK’s foxes.
Very effective when placed unobstructed at the fox’s access point to your garden. putting them off coming in at the source. A great low effort, low maintenance option.
Scoot Fox Repellent
Great solution-based repellent that targets foxes sense of smell and tricks it into thinking a rival has claimed it’s territory.
Get Off My Garden
Good repellent for targeting small areas. It contains citronella which is a naturally occurring deterrent and is particularly useful in helping to stop foxes fouling and urinating.
Contech Water Scarecrow
An excellent infrared heat and motion activated sprinkler that is really effective in protecting lawns, flowerbeds and ponds from unwanted foxes. Another low maintenance, low effort option.