Where will you find foxes?
Foxes are one of Scotland’s most common mammals, and have adapted well to living in both highly populated urban areas and more rural locations across the Scottish countryside.
They are mostly active at night, but can be seen during daylight hours when disturbed, in mid-winter mating periods or feeding cubs.
The type found in Scotland is the European fox, famed for its eye-catching red fur, white chest and brush-like tail.
Foxes are territorial creatures, which usually limits the number you’ll find in any given area. Their dens are called ‘earths’, which are underground burrows.
Foxes in rural areas have a varied diet and will munch on insects and berries. They are meat-eaters, so would eat small birds or mammals and domesticated animals such as chickens. Foxes have adapted well to life in built-up areas and will generally feed on anything discarded by humans.
Like other omnivores, foxes are smart with their stockpile of food. If they come across a large supply of food, they will store anything they don’t eat right away to feed on later.
Got a fox in your garden?
If you see a fox in your garden, chances are they have a good source of food nearby. Foxes are brilliant scavengers. You should never try to tame a fox or hand-feed it.
Not everyone is a fan of foxes in their garden. If that’s you, it’s important that you use safe and humane methods to deter foxes from entering your garden. Some simple steps you can take are:
- Remove any sources of food from the area
- Take down anything which could be used as a shelter
- Put up fencing or prickly plants around the garden.
It is against the law to use any substance to deter foxes which has not been approved for such use and the Scottish SPCA will investigate any reports of foxes being harmed in this way.
Threats to foxes
Foxes’ greatest predator is humans. Many foxes are hurt or killed in road traffic collisions every year. The other great challenge facing foxes is hunts. Organised fox-hunting still takes place across the UK. As far as the Scottish SPCA is concerned, there’s no place for such a barbaric practice in modern Scotland and we fully support an outright ban on blood sports such as this.
Found an injured fox?
If you come across a sick or injured fox, contact our animal helpline on 03000 999 999. A member of our helpline team will give you assistance and if we determine the fox does need our help, we’ll dispatch a Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer to assist as quickly as possible.
Never try to contain a fox as you risk hurting yourself and the animal, as well as causing it unnecessary levels of stress. Our animal rescue officer will do their best to contain the fox, but as wild animals they are naturally not too keen on this and often they are difficult to catch. Often, if a fox is still mobile, it's just not possible to contain.
Found fox cubs?
It’s increasingly common for us to receive reports of fox cubs in need of assistance. If they have their eyes fully open and their ears are pricked with no obvious signs of injury or distress, keep a safe distance and check back in an hour or two.
It is normal for vixens to leave their cubs for periods of time and only return at night to feed them. If they are disturbed, it puts the cubs at risk of being abandoned by their mother.
If you find a cub above ground with its eyes closed or only partially open, it certainly needs our help. In such cases you should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.
What happens after a fox rescue?
We take any injured foxes to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Clackmannanshire. Injured adults will be assessed and receive the necessary treatment to get them back in to the wild.
With fox cubs, our expert team will spend as much as nine months raising them until they are old enough to survive in the wild on their own. This is a complex process where cubs have to be hand-reared before human contact is slowly phased out so they are truly ‘wild’ by the time they are released.
Any release will be carefully planned and ensure the foxes are released in a suitable location with any landowners’ permission to maximise their chances of survival.