How to Deter Foxes – BBC Gardeners World Magazine

How to Deter Foxes - BBC Gardeners World Magazine

Foxes are fascinating creatures and many of us enjoy watching them go about their business, particularly when a family of foxes with cubs makes an appearance. However, if they choose to make your garden their home, foxes can become a bit of a nuisance. Cubs will practise digging in soft soil, often in borders, while to mark their territory you might find foxes leaving excrement in the middle of your lawn. If you are finding a lot of excrement in your garden it may be that your garden, or the foxes’ territory, is being fought over. So multiple foxes will be leaving faeces on your lawn.

When foxes are expecting cubs, they will be looking for a safe spot and may well choose a sheltered area of your garden or even create a den under your decking or shed. Don’t try to evict foxes if they are bringing up a family of cubs – try to enjoy the sight of the cubs growing up outside your door instead, and then take steps in the autumn to make your garden less hospitable for future families.

There are various ways to safely and humanely discourage foxes from settling in your garden.

Use smells to deter foxes

Foxes have a very strong sense of smell and will eat almost anything. Gardens with chickens or rabbits, or bird food, accessible bins, and crops will be particularly appealing.

You can use certain smells to deter foxes, they are reported to dislike the smell of chilli peppers and garlic so try infusing in boiling water and spraying around your garden as a fox repellent. Other animal repellants are available, but be aware of the risk to other wildlife and always read the manufacturers’ instructions carefully. If a territory has been marked by a fox, it will take some persistence to persuade them to move on, and if they feel their territory is threatened then you may find they increase the amount of marking.

Tidy up your garden

Foxes like to feel safe and secure, and a garden with overgrown areas can provide shelter for them. If you are trying to avoid foxes coming into and settling in your garden, give it a tidy. But bear in mind that overgrown areas are also sanctuaries for lots of other wildlife, such as hedgehogs, while allowing wildflowers to grow will also help pollinators.

Use motion sensors

Young foxes playing on a lawn. Getty Images

As mentioned above, foxes like to feel safe, so a motion sensor light or even sprinkler can be used to deter foxes. They can be easily scared, so a sudden light or burst of water can help to get rid of foxes in your garden. Be aware that they may get used to this method so you might like to try a variety of tactics, with motion sensors being one. There are high-pitched ultrasonic fox deterrents available, that are inaudible to humans, but be aware that these will also be heard by other wildlife and can cause distress.

Remove or hide food sources

Foxes will find plenty to eat in your garden, so if you are trying to deter foxes make sure that bird food is out of reach (and clear up any spillage), livestock such as chickens and rabbits are protected from foxes and bins are kept secure and tidy. They will also eat fruit from the garden so, if you’re finding them to be a nuisance, clear up any fruit that falls from fruit trees and protect other fruit and veg that foxes could get easy access to.

Stop access to your property

Fox cub walking on a garden path. Getty Images

You can also take steps to ensure that foxes can not access your garden, for example ensuring fences have no holes or gaps or making access difficult with prickly plants at your property border. But be aware that this may also put off other wildlife you’d like to welcome to your garden, such as hedgehogs who benefit from holes in fences on their searches for food. It’s also worth knowing that foxes can jump up to 2m high, so blocking holes that may stop other animals entering your garden may not actually deter foxes.