What do foxes eat?
The subject of whether or not humans should feed foxes, has been a highly controversial topic for many years. Personally, I do feed foxes and have a family of them living in a tree stump in my back garden. I feel very privileged that I can see these beautiful animals every day and if I can help their survival, then I will. The family are wild, and I do not have any contact with them or try to tame them. I put food out at dusk every evening and when I have gone back indoors, they come out to feed.
A recent wildlife survey of 4,000 people carried out in the UK revealed that 65.7% liked the foxes, 25.8% didn't mind them and only 8.5% stated that they disliked the foxes.
During the 1990s, the UK was hit by a parasitic disease called Sarcoptic Mange, which killed up to as many as 95% of each fox colony in certain areas. The fox population is slowly recovering, and more and more urban areas are being occupied by foxes. If ever I spot any signs of sarcoptic mange, then I treat them with a homeopathic remedy which I get from the N.F.W.S. (National Fox Welfare Society). This has helped me successfully treat the foxes for the past four years.
- Foxes will avoid dogs as they see them as a threat.
- Foxes generally hunt alone and not in packs as portrayed in films.
- Foxes will not mate with pet dogs.
- Generally cats and foxes will ignore each other. It is extremely rare for a cat to be attacked by a fox.
- In the wild, only 50% of foxes will live for two years. Very few make it beyond four or five years.
- Foxes are scared of humans.
A fox's diet
Foxes are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods. When fending for themselves for survival, they will eat:
- scavenged food
What to feed foxes
If you do feed foxes, there are many things that you can leave out for them. These include:
- chicken/meat scraps (without the bones)
- jam sandwiches, honey sandwiches or peanut butter sandwiches (it's true - they love sweet foods in moderation)
- wet dog food
- dried dog food
Tips for feeding foxes
You may find these tips useful to remember if you do feed foxes:
- Leave food out at approximately the same time each night around dusk.
- Scatter the food around the feeding area as this ensures that the food can be shared evenly. Foxes are selfish feeders and this will mean that the foxes will not come face to face when feeding.
- Only feed a small amount as foxes only have small stomachs, and overfeeding can make them ill.
- Ensure that there is a supply of drinking water available in an old tub or bowl.
- If you start feeding a fox, you should continue to do it regularly, but in small amounts. If you leave a large amount of food out each night, they will become dependent and stop looking for other sources.
- If you notice a fox with mange or are concerned at all about its condition, report it immediately to your local Fox Welfare Society.
- Never try to hand feed a fox or domesticate it as they need to retain their fear instinct of humans - this is key to their survival.