Foxes tend to do what they can to avoid people. However, with humans encroaching on their habitat, both red and gray foxes are being found more often in cities. Don’t panic! We have humane solutions to solve any of your fox conflicts.
Under Your Porch, Deck, or Outdoor Stairs
Foxes may be using these areas of your property for shelter from inclement winter weather. If you find a fox family under your porch, deck, or outdoor stairs, please consider tolerating them there until the young are old enough. At that point, they will leave on their own. Fox kits are usually born in March or April, and they will be old enough to leave the den for good after about nine weeks.
If Tolerance Isn’t an Option…
If you cannot tolerate letting a fox family leave on their own terms, you can use mild harassment techniques that are completely humane and effective. Try these tips from HSUS:
- Loosely pack leaves, soil, or mulch in the den openings to disturb the residents.
- Place urine soaked kitty litter, a sweat-soaked T-shirt, a pair of smelly sweat socks sprinkled with vinegar, or old sneakers in or near the den opening.
- Mount shiny party balloons or 12-18 inch lengths of Irri-tape on sticks or poles a few feet off the ground just outside the den entrance.
- Spread capsicum-based granular repellent (such as Havahart’s Critter Ridder) around the den entry.
- Use noise-making devices, such as a blaring radio or motion-sensitive alarms.
- Install a motion-activated sprinkler.
- Use a loud voice or banging on a pot or pan.
- Apply products sold in garden and hardware stores to repel domestic dogs from gardens and yards, as they will have a similar effect on a passing fox.
It is often better to use multiple of these techniques in conjunction. Please be patient, as this process can take time.
A den site attractive to a fox family will most likely be attractive to other wildlife as well. The best plan for permanent prohibition is to bury an L-shaped footer of hardware cloth around the perimeter of the area. Remember to please make sure all the babies are out of the den before any permanent exclusion is used.
Daytime Fox Encounters
Foxes are typically more afraid of you than you are of them. In fact, they are not dangerous to humans (unless rabid, which is rare) or when handled. They would rather “flight” than “fight”. However, some foxes have learned to be bold around humans if someone has been feeding them. You can simply make loud noises (think yelling or blowing a whistle) to scare them away, or even try dousing them with a water hose or throwing tennis balls at them.
If you have small pets, foxes can be a danger.
- Cats: Foxes are typically not interested in cats, but they may be interested in kittens. The best way to avoid conflicts are to keep cats indoors at all times. Keep in mind that this will keep your cats safe from other dangers, like traffic, diseases, and fights.
- Dogs: Foxes will most likely leave your dog alone, unless they feel their kits are being threatened. Do not leave your dogs outside unattended. This will also protect your dog from hazards like dog-napping and harassment.
- Other Small Pets: Try to keep pets like guinea pigs, and rabbits indoors, especially at night. When they must be outside (or for pets like chickens that are kept outside), make sure they are in a durable structure that will survive break-in efforts by foxes, and also other wildlife.
If your pet is bitten by a fox, take them immediately to a veterinarian.
While foxes like various fruits, they do not usually eat garden vegetables. If an animal is eating your vegetables, it is most likely not a fox.
In Your Yard
If you see a fox passing through your yard, no action on your part needs to be taken.
To keep foxes and other wildlife out of your yard long-term, bury an L-shaped footer around the perimeter of a fence.
While we haven’t found a repellent for using specifically on foxes, many products sold to keep dogs from yards and gardens will also work on a fox. Get Off My Garden and Scoot are two recommendations. Make sure to read the directions carefully before applying.
It is very rare for a fox to be rabid. Further, the fox strain of rabies has never been known to transmit to a human in the United States. Remember to have all your pets vaccinated against rabies to protect them and yourself.
It’s perfectly natural for a fox to be out during the day, since that’s when their prey is usually out. A fox with rabies will exhibit symptoms such as partial paralysis, drunk-like staggering, self-mutilation, or acting unnaturally aggressive or tame. If you exhibit these symptoms, call the police or Animal Care and Control.
Please note, Humane Action Pittsburgh (HAP) is not a wildlife rescue and is unable to address concerns or assist with wildlife emergencies. Please utilize the resources on our website to find the appropriate organization to contact. Submissions to HAP through our contact form or email will not be able to be addressed.