Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about injured/sick/orphaned/dead foxes:
- I have a sick fox in my garden: what should I do?
- I have found an orphaned fox cub: what should I do?
- How can I treat a fox with mange?
- Can I rear an orphaned fox and return it to the wild?
- Can I keep a pet fox?
- I have found a dead fox in my garden: what should I do about it?
- I have found a dead fox and suspect that it has been poisoned: who should I inform?
- My neighbours are using broken glass and metal spikes to deter the foxes from entering their garden: is this legal?
TopI have a sick fox in my garden: what should I do?
TopI have found an orphaned fox cub: what should I do?
However tempted you are, do not touch it; leave it where it is unless it is in danger, such as from a dog or cat. Very often people think fox cubs are abandoned because they do not see the parents. However, once the cubs are a few weeks old, the adults tend to lie up elsewhere and only return periodically to feed them. If the cubs appear in good condition and are playing, they are probably fine. So just keep an eye on them. If they are cold and appear hungry or distressed, contact the RSPCA's 24-hour national helpline on 0300 1234 999 or contact The Fox Project for advice.
TopHow can I treat a fox with mange?
Unlike dogs, mange in foxes is a serious disease and is often fatal. Most infected cubs die, as can adults; death usually occurs within four months of being infected. However, many adult foxes survive infection without treatment: sometimes the disease recedes, only to flare up again, or the fox never shows any further signs of infection. If you feed a fox regularly, you can try to improve its prognosis by adding either ivermectin, which you can obtain from a local veterinarian, or a homeopathic remedy to its food. However, with ivermectin you must ensure that the treated food is not eaten by someone's pet, since under UK law pet animals are property under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 and you are responsible for any adverse reactions that occur: collies and collie-crosses seem particularly susceptible to ivermectin, and small birds eating treated food are at particular risk of receiving a dangerously high dose.
TopCan I rear an orphaned fox and return it to the wild?
This is possible, but challenging. It is best done with a group of foxes, so that they develop social skills while growing up. It is essential not to get the cubs imprinted on people, or get them to associate people with food. So they are best reared in a large outdoor pen away from the sight and sound of people. From mid-July open the pen door, but continue to leave food near the pen for the rest of the summer. That way the cubs will continue to use the pen as a safe retreat whilst developing their hunting skills. They will explore the surrounding area and, when they are ready, move off to find their own territory. If you are going to try this, first seek professional advice from the Wildlife Department of the RSPCA (0300 123 0100).
TopCan I keep a pet fox?
There is nothing illegal in this, but it is to be strongly discouraged. Fox cubs may look cute, but they are wild animals and should be treated as such. As they grow, they become extremely boisterous and destructive. They are also very smelly: some people with pet foxes have had their anal glands removed to try to reduce the smell, castrate or spay the fox to modify its behaviour, and even have some of their claws removed. These mutilations rarely produce the desired effect and are extremely unpleasant for the fox. Foxes should not be kept as pets.
TopI have found a dead fox in my garden: what should I do about it?
If you find a dead fox in your garden or in the road outside, call your local authority to arrange for the body to be collected.
TopI have found a dead fox and suspect that it has been poisoned: who should I inform?
The Pesticides Safety Directorate, an agency of the Health and Safety Executive, investigates the deaths of UK wildlife where there is evidence that pesticide poisoning may be involved; this monitoring programme is called the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS). Contact WIIS for advice when there are grounds to suspect that a fox has been poisoned.
TopMy neighbours are using broken glass and metal spikes to deter the foxes from entering their garden: is this legal?
No animal welfare laws are being broken if a fox or other animal are injured. However, pet animals such as cats are property under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, and so anyone doing this may well be liable for any injuries caused to a neighbour's cat. Furthermore, you owe a duty of care to ensure that visitors to your property are reasonably safe. Bizarrely, this includes trespassers, although the duty of care is lower. So you are rendering yourself liable to civil action if you injure anyone; for more information consult the Police National Legal Database. Similar laws apply in many other countries.