- October 23, 2020
Over time, red urban foxes have successfully relocated to towns and cities. Urban foxes are the very same as wild rural foxes but moving to the hustle and bustle of city or suburban life – usually in the search for food – has enabled them to become more and more used to humans. Urban foxes are mostly active at night and early morning but are increasingly becoming more active throughout the day.
Urban foxes are natural scavengers and their cunning nature makes them extremely adaptable to city life, frequently living off food scavenged from bins and rubbish bags. Urban foxes live and breed mostly in scrub and undergrowth – along railway lines, rivers, derelict gardens, canals or even your garden.
The fox population appears to be thriving in Irish cities, with research suggesting a higher density of foxes in mature areas south of Dublin city and in the north inner city.
Damage Caused by Urban Foxes
Some people believe urban foxes are furry, cuddly creatures. In fact, they can be both a pest and a menace. When urban fox numbers reach high levels, they often come into conflict with humans.
In February 2013, a one-month old child was hospitalised after having his finger severed in a fox attack in his home in south-east London. In June 2010, nine-month old twins were attacked by a fox in there cots, also in London. In 2003, a four-year old was bitten on the arm in an upstairs bedroom in north London. In 2002, another attack took place in Kent, this time on a fourteen-week old baby. Although all of these attacks took place in Britain, an urban fox is an urban fox regardless of its ‘nationality’.
We remove many urban foxes from the greater Dublin region annually. We have also seen an increase in mangy foxes recently, sarcoptic mange being a skin disease caused by parasitic mites.
Symptoms include hair loss, bald spots, itching and scabbing. Because urban foxes travel from garden to garden and are able to scale walls in an almost cat-like fashion, the disease can spread quickly and be be passed to household dogs and cats.
Foxes are also carriers of toxoplasmosis which can spread to humans and is a danger to pregnant women. Foxes will also soil your garden and damage landscaping by scraping and digging.
Furthermore, clients have unfortunately also had to deal with the upsetting experience of finding a dead fox in their garden. We also offers a dead fox-removal service and will deal with this in the appropriate manner.
Urban foxes are not currently protected in Ireland and may be controlled in order to prevent health and safety hazards.
Fox-Proofing Your Premises
While urban foxes are often seen wandering through people’s gardens, the real problems begin when a vixen decides to make her den in your garden. Our clients have told us they initially found the presence of an urban fox to be a novelty; however, they soon discover that a family of fox cubs and two adult foxes can cause a lot of damage to their garden, not to mention the dangers and diseases posed and spread by these animals.
Vixens normally give birth in early spring, having between three and six cubs each year. The vixen will look for somewhere warm and safe to rear her cubs. The void under garden sheds and timber decks are a favourite location for urban vixens to have their cubs, as they often resemble a readymade natural den.
The fox cubs will start to emerge from the den after four to six weeks. Prior to seeing the cubs, a tell-tale sign that a vixen has made a den in your garden is by finding flowers flattened and items such as bird wings and rubbish in your garden.
As soon as you notice a fox residing in your garden, contact us immediately. Once the foxes have been removed, we strongly recommend you get the garden fox proofed. You should never attempt to block off or pest proof a foxhole or den yourself, as this can result in a fox getting trapped inside and starving to death. Without adequate fox-proofing of your decking or shed after removing the foxes, there is a high probability that another urban fox will use the area to build its den the following spring.
Unfortunately, from time to time, we receive calls that an animal that has died on someone’s premises. This is particularly common for urban foxes. Whilst some of the urban foxes we have encountered in Dublin are in good condition, there are many that are not. Urban foxes have a high mortality rate with up to 80% not living more than one year. Due to the sparse resources available to foxes within urban environments and high density levels in relatively small areas, diseases such as mange spread quickly.
It is an offence to dispose of a dead fox or animal as part of your normal household rubbish. At Central pest Control, we understand that it can be distressing to find a dead animal on your premises and will respond to the issue as a matter of urgency. We will remove the animal in line with the Dept. of Agriculture’s policy on animal-carcass removal. We will also decontaminate the area with a specialist disinfectant, as dead animals often carry disease or parasites and it is very important that the area is left hygienically safe.