Foxes have been successful in coexisting with humans. This is not due to their fabled intelligence, but rather to their adaptability to a variety of shifting environments.
The urban fox is a common sight in London. It is essentially a rite of passage to be startled on a drunken walk home by an orange streak shooting out of a hedge.
Even the choir stalls at St. Paul’s Cathedral have been spotted with them. But why are there so many red creatures strolling the streets of the capital?
“After World War I, the red fox began to appear in cities,” explains Mathew Frith, director of conservation for the London Wildlife Trust.
New transportation systems enabled individuals to work in one location and live in another, and suburban housing was constructed in formerly rural regions.
Foxes soon adapted, taking advantage of the food and shelter in these relatively new and expansive gardens.
In this guide, you will learn everything there is to know about foxes in London.
- 1 Are There Too Many Foxes In London?
- 2 Are Foxes A Big Trouble For Londoners?
- 3 Why Do They Make Those Awful Screaming Noises?
- 4 Are Foxes In London Dangerous?
- 5 Do The Foxes Pose A Health Hazard?
- 6 Can I Feed The Foxes?
- 7 How To Deal With Foxes In London?
- 8 History of Foxes in London
- 9 Behavior and Habitat of Foxes in London
- 10 Controversies Surrounding Foxes in London
Are There Too Many Foxes In London?
The London wildlife trust estimated that there are approximately 10,000 foxes in the city, and in particular boroughs, they are more prevalent than in the surrounding countryside.
As foxes have become accustomed to sharing their surroundings with humans, they have begun to populate the urban core.
According to Frith, the number of foxes attracted to urban living has increased dramatically during the past three decades.
There are presently only a few London neighborhoods where they are not present.
However, city life is not risk-free: 60% of the fox population perishes annually in road accidents.
Despite this, the number of foxes in London appears to be stable, and living in London has its advantages. It is because cities offer greater chances for food and shelter than rural areas.
Are Foxes A Big Trouble For Londoners?
Foxes are animals that can cause unanticipated property damage. With around 28 foxes per sq mile, the urban fox is a common nuisance in London.
They reside on construction sites and subsist mostly on food scraps from hotels, restaurants, taverns, takeaways, and food-processing facilities. Foxes are increasingly focusing their attacks on these organizations.
In addition to eating meat, foxes enjoy hunting for fruits and vegetables, which frequently results in their raiding your garbage cans.
Their food is so varied that they are able to thrive in London, especially in metropolitan areas.
In metropolitan areas, foxes frequently dig their dens beneath sheds, in cellars, or in peaceful, overgrown corners of your property.
During mating season, their screaming can be disturbing and frequently disrupt sleep.
Foxes will often avoid cats and dogs, but they may be enticed by rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens if they are not sufficiently safeguarded.
If the animals are housed outside, the simplest approach to assure their protection is to line the bottom of their cage or hutch with chicken wire that cannot be penetrated by foxes.
Why Do They Make Those Awful Screaming Noises?
Foxes are typically very quiet, despite the fact that they are capable of communicating through a range of cries.
Even in the winter, they only call on average once every three nights; in the autumn, when they are least noisy, they call only once per week.
Of all the sounds they make, the screams are the most problematic; they are extremely bloodcurdling and are frequently misinterpreted as someone being attacked.
Are Foxes In London Dangerous?
During the day, foxes are typically cautious and unwilling to be observed. They present us with minimal to no threat. Small mammals and birds are the natural prey of foxes.
In addition, they fear anything greater than what they prefer to eat.
Not only do foxes eat meat, but they also enjoy foraging for fruits and vegetables, which often results in them raiding your bins.
Their diversified diet is the reason why they survive so well in London, particularly in urban areas.
London gardens may require fox-proofing since foxes pilfer pet food left outside and in trash cans overnight.
Foxes have been responsible for a handful of attacks on people during the past few years, the majority of which were directed toward youngsters. The presence of food in your garden will attract foxes.
It is always prudent to be aware of foxes if you have young children. The safety of your children will be ensured by observing them when they are in your garden and by locking your doors at night.
Dogs are a wonderful deterrent for foxes. They are adversaries by nature. If you keep tiny animals outside, such as rabbits or chicks, they could be in grave danger if a fox is prowling.
The most effective way to prevent your pets from being devoured is to provide them with fox-proof housing.
Foxes also carry dangerous infections, which can be caught through a bite or through their feces.
If you observe more foxes than usual in the vicinity of your London home, you should contact your local council.
Do The Foxes Pose A Health Hazard?
Foxes are susceptible to numerous diseases, nearly all of which also affect domestic dogs.
These include the parvovirus, distemper, ear canker, and the lethal sarcoptic mange.
In the latter situation, mites burrow into the skin and create severe inflammation; the fox loses most or all of its fur and dies of starvation within three to four months.
Contrary to common opinion, it is not the result of urban scavenging and is prevalent in rural foxes as well.
The other harmful parasite is Toxocara canis, an intestinal worm that causes toxocariasis in children extremely rarely.
The worm is widespread in both dogs and foxes, so you should take the same precautions with fox feces as you would with dog feces.
It is unknown if foxes infect dogs, whether dogs infect foxes, or whether one species acts as a disease reservoir for the other.
In addition, it is essential to keep in mind that the vast majority of urban foxes are completely healthy and not the disease-ridden creatures they are commonly depicted as being.
Can I Feed The Foxes?
No. Don’t attempt to tame foxes. Many urban foxes are now so domesticated as they approach strangers with the intention of being fed, which creates problems.
Many individuals are frightened by this behavior since they do not sure whether the foxes are being curious or aggressive.
If fed excessively and frequently, foxes can become overconfident and less frightened of people, but they will not become dependent on you.
This can encourage them to approach people for food, which is not desirable behavior.
It is preferable not to leave out an excessive amount of food every night.
Strange as it may seem, urban foxes routinely consume birdseed, peanuts, and other foods placed on bird tables.
How To Deal With Foxes In London?
Foxes may be eliminated using only two legal techniques. These include shooting, which is too risky in urban settings, and cage trapping combined with fatal injection, which is costly and inefficient.
Only a veterinarian can administer a lethal injection, and the majority of veterinarians refuse to euthanize healthy animals.
Certain pest control firms kill foxes. If you elect to hire someone to kill a fox on your property, you are responsible for the fees associated with the animal’s killing and disposal (which can be considerable).
Additionally, the territory of a fox that is eradicated will be rapidly reoccupied by another fox.
Follow these instructions if you are concerned because foxes have been spotted in your neighborhood or on your street:
- Do not keep windows on the bottom level or directly above a flat roof wide open (leaving the windows open just two to three inches will ensure a fox is not able to gain access)
- Do not leave French windows or exterior ground-floor doors open, especially at night.
- Do not attract foxes to your home or garden by storing garbage in metal bins with tight lids.
- If foxes are constantly disturbing your sleep, you can deter them by turning on an external light, making a sudden and loud noise (be careful not to disturb your neighbors), or shining a powerful torch beam at them.
- You may use a suitable animal repellent to deter the animal. To successfully repel foxes, the repellent must be reapplied frequently, often for weeks, until the foxes give up and move on.
- Never be tempted to use creosote- or gasoline-soaked rags; doing so is harmful and illegal.
- Clear overgrown gardens that could serve as resting locations and ensure that there is no food on compost piles.
- It is illegal and cruel to capture foxes within their den. Do not leave poisoned food out for foxes, as this endangers other people and wildlife and can result in incarceration and/or hefty fines.
If you need practical assistance with foxes, you should seek the counsel of an expert in pest control. The website of the British Pest Control Association is important for locating an appropriate pest control professional.
History of Foxes in London
Foxes in London in the Past
Foxes have been a part of London’s history for centuries. In the past, foxes were hunted for their fur and as pests.
According to the Natural History Museum, foxes were first recorded in London in the 1930s.
At that time, local authorities attempted to exterminate them by shooting and trapping them. However, this method proved to be ineffective, and the fox population continued to grow.
Changes in Fox Population over Time
Over time, the attitudes towards foxes in London have changed. In the 1970s, London boroughs were responsible for controlling fox populations.
In Bromley, a fox-control officer killed 300 foxes a year, but made no dent in the population. Urban fox control was abandoned in the 1980s, and since then, the population has continued to thrive.
According to The Guardian, the population of foxes in London is estimated to be around 10,000. The reason for the increase in population is due to the availability of food and shelter in urban areas.
Foxes are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything, including rubbish, pet food, and even small animals such as mice and birds. In recent years, there have been reports of foxes entering homes and attacking pets.
However, these incidents are rare, and foxes are generally not a threat to humans.
In fact, many people in London have grown fond of their urban fox neighbors and enjoy watching them in their gardens.
Overall, the history of foxes in London is a fascinating one. From being hunted as pests to being welcomed as part of the city’s wildlife, the population of foxes in London continues to thrive.
Behavior and Habitat of Foxes in London
Foxes are a common sight in London, where they have adapted to urban living. They are primarily active at night and can often be heard making a range of sounds, including barks, screams, and yelps. Foxes are solitary animals that are most commonly found in parks, gardens, and other green spaces in the city.
Foxes are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods, including small mammals, birds, frogs, worms, and berries.
They are also known to scavenge in bins for scraps of food. In London, foxes have adapted to eating human food waste and have been known to raid bins and compost heaps in search of food.
Foxes dig out dens to provide a safe underground space for raising fox cubs, also called kits. Dens are typically located in areas with dense vegetation or in underground spaces, such as abandoned burrows or drainage systems.
In London, foxes have been known to make dens in gardens and other green spaces.
Urban Foxes vs Rural Foxes
Urban foxes in London have adapted to living in close proximity to humans and have become less fearful of people.
They are often seen wandering through residential areas and can sometimes be found sleeping in gardens or on rooftops. Rural foxes, on the other hand, are typically more wary of humans and are less likely to be seen in built-up areas.
Despite their adaptation to urban living, foxes in London still face a number of threats, including road traffic accidents, disease, and human persecution. It is important to remember that foxes are wild animals and should be treated with caution and respect.
Controversies Surrounding Foxes in London
Fox hunting has been a controversial topic in the UK for many years. The Hunting Act 2004 banned the hunting of wild mammals with dogs, including foxes, in England and Wales.
However, there are still some individuals and groups who participate in illegal fox hunting, which has led to clashes with animal rights activists and law enforcement.
Another controversial issue surrounding foxes in London is culling. In the past, local authorities attempted to exterminate foxes in the city by shooting and trapping them. However, these efforts were largely unsuccessful, and some argue that culling is not an effective way to manage urban fox populations.
Others argue that foxes can be a nuisance and pose a risk to public health, particularly in areas where they scavenge for food in bins and gardens.
Foxes in the Media
Foxes have been depicted in the media as both cute and cuddly creatures and dangerous pests. In 2013, a fox attacked a baby in London, which sparked a wave of negative media coverage and public outcry.
However, some experts argue that such incidents are rare and that foxes generally pose little threat to humans. Despite this, foxes continue to be a controversial topic in the media and in public discourse.
Overall, the controversies surrounding foxes in London reflect a complex relationship between humans and wildlife in urban environments.
While some view foxes as a nuisance, others see them as an important part of the city’s ecosystem.
As London continues to grow and change, it is likely that debates about how to manage urban wildlife populations will continue to be a topic of discussion.