Resourceful and adaptable, foxes are one of the most common mammals in Scotland. They are widespread across urban and rural areas and usually active at night.
The type of fox found in Scotland is the European fox. It is famed for its eye-catching red fur, white chest and brush-like tail. Foxes are one of the most common mammals in the country.
They are territorial creatures, which usually limits the amount you'll find in any given area. Their dens are called 'earths', which are underground burrows.
Foxes breed between December and January. At this time of year you may hear vixens make an unmistakable screaming noise. Fox cubs are born in the Spring and are old enough to survive on their own from Autumn the same year. Some cubs will leave to find their own territories, whilst others may stay to remain within their family and help raise the next group of babies.
FAQs on foxes, vixens and fox cubs
If you come across a fox cub or a group of fox cubs, please do not disturb them. It's normal for a parent to leave them whilst hunting for food or looking for a new den to move to. If the cubs are noisy, that usually means they are hungry.
Monitor them from a safe distance. 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. Removing fox cubs from their den whilst the vixen is away can put mum under great stress. Observe for as long as possible to be sure the cubs need help.
If there is still no sign of an adult fox, give our Animal Helpline a call on 03000 999 999. We can give you advice and, if we think the cubs need it, dispatch an animal rescue officer to assist.
If you can clearly see a fox or cub is injured or sick, contact our Animal Helpline immediately on 03000 999 999. We will give you advice and attend as quickly as possible. Do not do anything which could cause further stress to the injured fox.
There's no reason you cannot leave food out for foxes. They are omnivores and they will eat cooked or raw meat and pet food which you would feed to a dog or cat. A fox's diet is largely made up of insects and berries. Foxes will also eat small birds or mammals and domesticated animals such as chickens.
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. So, they might take food you leave out and run off with it to eat later on.
Whilst it is not illegal to keep a fox as a pet, we would not encourage anyone to do so. Foxes are naturally wild and it is not in the best interests of their welfare to be kept as a pet. Since they are not domesticated, it would be really difficult to keep a fox as a pet.
If you come across a fox cub, please do not take it in and try to raise it yourself. Call our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999 for advice before you interact with any fox cub and, if need be, we can take it to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre where it can be raised by experts to prepare it for life in the wild once it is old enough.
The population of foxes is healthy in both rural and urban areas across Scotland. This does mean you can come across a dead fox from time to time. If you find one on your garden or on land you own, you should call your local authority to assist with removal. We are only able to respond to reports of live animals in need.
If you have a persistent problem with foxes entering your garden, there is plenty of humane steps you can take to stop them without harming them.
Foxes will scavenge through litter and rubbish for food, so make sure your bins are secure and the lids are closed. Keep your garden clean and tidy. Foxes are at home in areas which offer great shelter, so an untidy and overgrown garden is great for that. A fox will also create a den under the likes of a shed or garage, so make sure there's no gaps under these if you have them.
Make sure there are no food sources in your garden, as foxes will return to a place time after time if there is a ready supply. You can also make sure your garden is secure by putting up fencing or prickly plants.
You should make sure you do all of the above before breeding season starts, which is from December to February.
Foxes are territorial animals, meaning if one leaves the territory which your garden is in, chances are another fox will turn up to claim it. You can try using an artificial scent-marker to deter a fox. If it thinks it is in another fox's territory, it is less likely to hang around. 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.
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.