Some people find foxes adorable, with their fur, eyes, and cute snouts, while others find them a threat, especially if they keep farm animals or small pets.
But the truth is, if you live in the UK, foxes are a reality to live with, so it’s important to be very cautious around them so as not to affect their populations or feeding habits.
The diet of these mammals depends on the species, the season, and the environment, whether rural or urban. In this article, we will detail what foxes eat, as well as explaining what to do if they approach your yard.
What is the diet of foxes?
You might think that foxes are exclusively meat eaters and hunters. But the truth is that foxes are omnivores, hunters, and scavengers just like bears, which is an evolutionary advantage over other species.
Fox cubs are born blind and deaf and are dependent on their mother’s milk. In fact, they begin to assimilate solid food at about four weeks of age and are usually weaned by the time they are three months old.
The diet of foxes in the wild consists of 95% meat, usually birds, small mammals, and rodents, from hunting and decaying carrion.
In the case of field and forest foxes, they eat insects and seasonal fruits, while urban foxes eat more insects and fruits than meat compared to their rural relatives.
It is estimated that about 20% of the urban fox’s diet is derived from leftovers from human dwellings, collected at night from broken or poorly secured containers. The fox population in the city has increased because they have been displaced from their natural habitat.
Foxes that come from the countryside or the city are lazy, and if it is easier for them to forage for food rather than hunt, they will do so. Foraging means less energy expenditure for the foxes.
What don’t (or shouldn’t) foxes eat?
Although possible, foxes are unlikely to eat cats. Young kittens are not exempt from fox attacks, but if the kitten has its mother nearby, she will defend it fiercely. Foxes and adult cats are about the same size.
Cats have strong, sharp claws and a very keen self-defence instinct, which is why foxes prefer smaller, easy prey. A fox prefers to stay away from a kitten to avoid unnecessary confrontation with its mother.
Many dogs are larger than a fox, so the fox does not see them as prey. Although a miniature Chihuahua dog is prey for these animals, the owners of these dogs live fearing being taken by a fox.
If foxes come across a bar of chocolate, they can eat it without any problems, but they shouldn’t. Chocolate has chemicals in it that can be harmful to foxes. Chocolate contains chemicals that can be harmful to foxes and other canids.
Leftover chocolate in a packet does not pose any risk to foxes or dogs. What is important is that if you are disposing of a chocolate bar because it causes an adverse reaction, it is best to wrap it well before disposal.
Reasons not to feed foxes
Some people like to see wild animals in their garden. In fact, fox cubs are quite adorable, and feeding them keeps them in your home. But feeding foxes is not the best idea.
Foxes have opportunistic eating habits, which is why you will also find people who are uncomfortable with the thought of foxes roaming around their gardens.
It is very likely that if a fox starts sniffing around outside your house, it will get containers in which to look for food scraps and will also try to nibble on objects in your garden.
Do you like to look after the plants in your garden? Foxes tend to bury leftover food, so if you feed them, they are likely to bury food, damaging your plants or those of your neighbours.
Foxes often leave their droppings in the garden, which is not only unsightly, but can cause unpleasant odours, and if you have dogs, they may eat their waste, which can lead to disease for your pets.
When you decide to feed a fox, you should know that you make them less fearful of human presence. For this reason, the animal may approach for food, but by approaching another family it may risk being shot.
The way foxes use their ears, tails, and fur is great, helping them find their way around, as well as foraging for food. Feeding foxes causes us to interfere with their habits and much of their instinct is diminished.
What to do if foxes are nearby?
If you own a farm and keep some animals outside, such as chickens or rabbits, keep them indoors to avoid attracting foxes.
Don’t try to tame foxes, touch them or feed them manually, especially if you are in town. Feeding them makes them more brazen, which is counterproductive for those who mistake an attack for an approach to beg for food.
Another reason not to feed foxes is that if you feed them in large quantities, you encourage them to keep the leftovers in your garden. Food scraps attract other animals such as mice, rats, and insects.
Close rubbish bins tightly and keep the area around your garden clean to avoid attracting foxes. Foxes are nice to look at but feeding them or making it easy for them to do so can make them a pest, so be wary of these animals.