If you’ve seen a fox on your property, or have seen evidence that a fox has been wreaking havoc in your yard you’re probably wondering what your next steps should be. Trapping is certainly an option to remove a fox from your yard.
Now, trapping may sound scary! But trapping a fox is fairly easy and safe when you have a proper live trap for foxes. And it shouldn’t take too much time or money to do it either.
Foxes are beautiful creatures who won’t likely cause you any harm. But there are still some risks to having them around so luckily there are some ways you can repel or trap them once you know why they find your yard so fascinating.
What Bait Do You Use To Trap A Fox?
You have quite a few options when it comes to bait:
– Wet cat food
– Chicken, Beef, Pork, or any meat
– Sugar-coated vegetables
How Do You Use A Fox Trap?
Fox traps are easy and safe to use if you follow the instructions.
Get a proper live trap big enough to trap a fox. You can typically buy or even rent them at your local hunting or hardware store.
Wash the trap well. You don’t want your trap smelling of humans or household animals.
Bait the trap. Set the trap in the open position and get your bait ready. Your trap will likely have a designated spot in the center to place the bait.
Wait overnight. Try not to check your trap until the next morning because you don’t want to scare away the fox you’re trying to get rid of permanently. Besides, most foxes will come out at night so that’s the very best time to trap them.
Know that foxes aren’t stupid. Some foxes may have been trapped and released before, and some will just instinctively know not to enter a cage.
So, you need to be smart. Put the bait outside of the cage for the first few nights so the fox gets a taste of it. Then put it in the cage. Chances are the fox will come looking for its nightly feed and not stop to notice it’s been moved inside of a cage.
Check your trap daily. Although you don’t want to be sneaking out every hour to check because you may scare off the fox, you should check your trap every morning, or at least once a day.
There’s a chance you may have caught a raccoon, squirrel, or even a pet so you need to get it out of there to wash it and re-set the trap to catch the fox. And when you do catch the fox, you’ll need to relocate it as soon as possible. Waiting will just make the poor fox suffer.
What Do Foxes Look Like?
Although some people may confuse foxes with coyotes and certain breeds of dogs, foxes have a rather distinctive appearance. They’re quite slender, have pointed ears, oval-shaped eyes, and a longer muzzle than most breeds of dogs.
There are many different types of foxes throughout the world – but only five different kinds of fox commonly found in North America. The two most common are the red fox and the gray fox.
Red foxes are a reddish color, and gray foxes are (you guessed it!) gray. Except for the back of their ears and the front of their legs which is quite dark. The front of their chest and down their belly is often lighter in color – ranging from a gray to almost white color. Their tail is quite fluffy and often tipped with white.
Red foxes are generally bigger than gray foxes. They are about the size of a medium dog. Red foxes are roughly 2 – 3 feet long (not including their long tail) and can weigh up to 15 pounds. Gray foxes rarely exceed 11 pounds and typically have a smaller body.
What Do Foxes Eat?
Foxes love to feast on fruit and will seek it out throughout the summer and fall. They particularly like blackberries, persimmons, and apples. Foxes also thrive on eating mammals. They particularly like to hunt rabbits, but will also catch and eat birds, reptiles, insects, and frogs. They’ll also be seen feasting on fish, worms, crickets, and caterpillars.
Foxes are great hunters who prefer to hunt during dawn or dusk but will any time they see or need food. They use their incredible hearing skills to stalk their prey and use a special pouncing technique to catch and kill their prey quickly and efficiently.
And yes, foxes will resort to digging through your garbage if there are no other food sources readily available, or if the garbage puts off a favorable smell.
Foxes will eat several pounds of food in a single day. What they don’t eat they will bury under either leaves or snow to come back to eat later.
How Fast Can Foxes Run?
Foxes can run about 30 – 40 miles an hour and generally red foxes can run a bit faster than gray foxes. Their high speed both helps them catch their prey and also run away from larger animals which are preying on them.
Where Will You Typically Find a Fox?
Foxes are typically found in forested areas but are also commonly found in desserts, mountains, and grasslands.
They create dens by burrowing into the ground. These dens are where they sleep, store a lot of their food, and provides a safe place to birth pups. Once they have a family, they dig out even more tunnels to create a real home for them. These dens often have several exit points in case they need to flee quickly because a predator finds their burrow.
Do Foxes Come Out Only At Night?
Foxes are a bit more prone to be nocturnal animals and are active mostly at both dawn and dusk. However, if they are in search of food they will roam around whenever they need to find prey. And you’ll often see foxes out during the daytime during mating season.
Do Foxes Hibernate?
Don’t count on foxes disappearing during the winter! Foxes do not hibernate during the wintertime, but they do tend to stick a little closer to home. They will still be out searching for food, but mostly within about a 1 to 2-mile radius of their den. If the weather makes it truly difficult for them to hunt, they will stay in their dens to ride out the worst of it but will resume hunting as soon as they possibly can.
Interestingly, much like cats and some other animals, foxes fur gets thicker during the cold season – giving them a “winter coat” of sorts to protect them from the elements.
And if the sun shines during the wintertime, even if it’s cold, you’ll likely see foxes laying about to soak up the warmth from it.
Foxes breed during the first few months of the year then spend the early springtime in dens with their new family.
Why Do Foxes Make So Much Noise?
If you’ve ever heard foxes scream and bark at each other you’ve probably felt quite alarmed, but it’s just their way of communicating with each other and warning against danger from predators.
And you’ll likely hear more noise between January and March, which is fox mating season.
Different types of foxes make different types of noises based on what they’re trying to communicate:
Female red foxes make shrill, short shrieks to attract males during mating season, while male red foxes will scream to ward off any competition from other males during mating season. Female foxes will also make a shouting or yelping sound during mating as well.
Gray foxes will bark (much like a dog or seal) when they feel they’re in danger.
Do Foxes Attack Cats?
Foxes don’t typically see cats as prey. Foxes aren’t much bigger than cats and since cats have sharp claws and teeth, foxes generally will steer clear of cats.
Foxes may chase a cat away if it’s trying to catch the same prey the fox wants, or if a cat is too close to their territory, but it’s rare for a fox to attack a cat.
Do Foxes Attack Chickens?
Chickens can’t generally run fast and they are a huge source of protein – so they make easy targets for hungry foxes. Some foxes make a game of killing chickens, entering into a “killing frenzy” and can kill most to all chickens in a pen. However, they will often only take one or two birds with them back to their den to eat.
Foxes don’t kill for fun, but they are natural predators and the urge to chase and kill is programmed into their genes. If they only come across one chicken apart from the others they will be content to only take that chicken. However, if they have broken into a chicken pen and all the chickens are hopping around scared the fox will automatically attack as many as they possibly can.
Can Dogs Get Diseases From Foxes?
Much like with cats, foxes aren’t generally interested in hurting and will likely do little more than chase a dog away from its food source or den.
However, if a dog is attacked by a fox it could be because the fox is rabid – in which case, diseases are likely. Contact your veterinarian or ASPCA as soon as possible for advice and treatment.
Foxes can carry rabies, toxocariasis, and can spread mange. And since foxes can defecate in yards and areas where dogs are it’s possible dogs can get an infection from their feces.
Do Foxes Attack Humans?
Attacks on humans are extremely rare. There have been a few cases of small children being attacked by a fox but humans of any type or size are not generally of any interest to foxes.
The few cases reported have been of a fox inadvertently wandering into a home and being confronted by humans. Generally, they will try to find an exit themselves, and will only lash out if they feel they are in danger.
Even if a fox comes into contact with a human in the wild, or if a human is near their den, foxes will typically try to scare the human off or lead them away before they will resort to attacking.
What Happens If A Fox Bites You?
As just mentioned, foxes are typically not a danger for humans so it’s unlikely you will have to worry about a fox bite. However, there are a few occasions where they may lash out and bite you:
– They are protecting their family
– You are a danger in another way
– They are rabid
So, although rare, if you are bitten by a fox you need to take action immediately! Fox bites are painful and like any other wound, can get infected. Plus, there is a small chance the fox has a disease they could transmit to you through the bite.
– Wash the wound with soap and water as soon as possible
– Report the incident to your local wildlife federation, ASPCA, or health department
– Seek medical attention until you know the bite is healing nicely and you know there are no diseases present.
Do Foxes Carry Lyme Disease?
Any animal, or human, can be affected by Lyme disease if they come into contact with the disease. Lyme disease is caused by tick bites. Rodents are the most common carrier of Lyme disease-carrying ticks.
As we mentioned, foxes often feast on rodents and therefore will keep their population down by either killing them or by ensuring the rodents hide well underground. And where there are fewer rodents, there is less chance of developing Lyme disease.
So, foxes actually are often credited in keeping Lyme disease in check in certain areas!
Do Foxes Carry Weil’s Disease?
Foxes can be susceptible to Weil’s Disease, which is a severe form of the bacterial infection leptospirosis.
It’s quite contagious and can be spread through blood, tissues, and urine of infected animals and rodents. It can also be spread through contaminated water or soil sources. Most animals can develop Weil’s disease but it’s more often seen in these creatures:
- Reptiles and Amphibians
Do Foxes Have Parasites?
Foxes are responsible for the spread of Echinococcus multilocularis (commonly referred to as the Fox tapeworm). The parasite sheds eggs in the fox’s feces and other animals, as well as people, can get infected.
Toxocariasis is roundworm that is most commonly seen in foxes and dogs. This parasite is also spread mostly by feces and is easily spread to humans – especially young children.
Heartworm, despite the name, is actually found in the lung arteries of animals – most commonly dogs and foxes – and is typically spread by eating infected animals such as slugs, snails, and frogs.
Can Foxes Get Rabies?
Any mammal which has warm blood can contract rabies. It’s spread by coming into contact with saliva – usually from a bite or a scratch from an infected mammal. However, rabies is most commonly found in these mammals:
Since most domesticated animals are vaccinated against rabies, it’s uncommon to see it in dogs anymore. So, wildlife makes up the largest percentage of rabies carriers.
In fact, over 90% of rabies cases have come from wild mammals.
Can Foxes Get Mange?
Sarcoptic Mange is extremely common in mammals – and is found in both wild and domestic animals. It’s spread by mites who burrow themselves into the outer layers of the skin where they deposit their eggs, feces, digestive matter, and shed their shells. Which as you can imagine, results in extreme irritation to the skin.
Animals will scratch, bite, and chew their skin to relieve the irritation. It’s not uncommon to see an animal chew off full patches of their fur and even some skin if they suffer from mange. In extreme cases, animals may stop eating and die from starvation.
However, although foxes are extremely susceptible to mange it’s not at all common for a dog or human to develop mange from coming into contact with a fox.
Will Foxes Dig Up Your Yard?
Foxes are generally looking for food and if you have garbage in your yard, or if you have a garden, foxes will be drawn in. They’re looking for fruits and other fresh food, but also may dig down to find earthworms and grubs.
And they may dig up sections of your lawn, flowerbeds, and bushes to burrow or to bury their food.
How Do You Repel A Fox?
If you think you’ve seen a fox or heard they are in your area, there are a few different ways you can keep them from coming into your yard:
Clean up your garbage. Make sure all your garbage is cleaned up and sealed tight in a lockable garbage can that can’t be opened by paws.
Remove all food left outside. If you keep food for your pet on your deck, bring it in, at least after dark. And make sure you don’t leave any leftovers or other compost outside without it being in a locked container.
Watch your fruit trees. When your fruit starts growing, you’ll need to pick it as soon as possible, especially on the lower branches. And make sure you pick up all fallen fruit from the ground.
Put up a fence. It may be pricey but putting up a fence is a great way to keep foxes and other unwanted animals out of your yard. Foxes and other animals can dig, however, so not only does the fence need to be high enough so it’s not tempting to climb over, it must reach about 1-foot underground, or most critters will simply dig under it to get into your yard.
Use fox repellent. There are several different commercial brands available to purchase which you can use around the perimeter of your yard to discourage a fox from entering.
You can also use a simple homemade hot sauce mixture to sprinkle around your yard. Foxes hate hot spicy things and will shy away from overpowering smells. Because of its pungent smell foxes also hate vinegar so this is another great thing to use.
All of these homemade fox repellents are great because they are fairly effective, safe for other animals and humans, and shouldn’t damage your garden.
Does Urine Repel Foxes?
There is some evidence that urine – specifically male urine – will repel a fox from your yard because of its pungent smell. However, it would likely be difficult to produce enough of your own urine to cover enough area of your yard to deter a fox.
There are animal-based urine repellents you can buy which do the same thing.
How Can I Get Rid Of A Fox In My Yard?
If you know you already have a fox who lives in or frequents your yard, you’ll want to use one of these methods to discourage the fox from coming back or continuing to live there:
Clean up your yard. Prune your bushes and cover up any areas that the fox may use as a den to encourage them to set up somewhere other than your yard.
Clean up any leaf piles or other piles of debris where a fox could hide, or use to store their food.
Install a motion-activated sprinkler. Foxes dislike getting wet, especially when they don’t have to. And they also really don’t like being surprised. So, if you have a sprinkler that goes off when they enter your yard hopefully that will be enough to scare them off for good.
Install a motion-activated light. Although foxes will hunt in the day if they’re hungry or during mating season, they typically prefer the cover of darkness. And again, they don’t like the element of surprise. So, a motion-activated light is another great option to deter them.
Use a fox trap.You can get a trap to capture the fox so you can relocate it far away, or get rid of it for good.
Hire a professional. There are lots of pest control companies who deal with catching foxes and other animals. It will cost you, but it will save you the trouble of dealing with your fox problem yourself.
Where Should You Relocate A Fox?
Once you’ve trapped your fox you may want to look into relocating it. It’s best to contact your local humane department or wildlife control because they may pick it up, or have some suggestions as to where it may be best to release your trapped fox.
Can You Legally Kill A Fox?
The short answer is yes, you can kill a fox. However, there are rules around how, when, and where you can. Some ways people kill foxes include:
Again, some professionals can take care of the fox for you. It’s best to contact your local municipality to find out the rules around killing foxes before you attempt to do it yourself.