We live in a part of the city on the edge of a park and our back gardens have some wild, wooded areas, so it’s not surprising we often see urban foxes around. These are of the red fox species, Vulpes vulpes.
I have to admit that personally I love to see them and we are lucky they don’t seem to do much harm in this environment.
The other day when I was at my desk I saw a fox in the neighbour’s garden, rolling around on the grass like a big pet cat, playing. Luckily I had my camera to hand.
Imagine my surprise when a second fox appeared on the neighbour’s decking and the two greeted each other, almost as if they were going to have a fight.
But they turned out to be friends and settled down together to bask in the sun. I thought they might be mates, a sort of up-town girl and down-town man, as the second fox was a bit scruffy compared to the first, pretty one. I have been told since that foxes mate in January or February, so this was no courting ritual.
I know some people don’t like urban foxes but contrary to some beliefs, they don’t usually kill pet cats and dogs, don’t attack children or babies and don’t carry rabies.
[But hours after publishing this blog post, there was a big news story about an attack by a fox on two baby girls in their London home, which you can read here.]
They can occasionally get mange (caused by the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei) but if they look scruffy in April/May/June it’s probably because they are moulting and the grey underfur shows through.
We don’t keep chickens so there is no problem there and the foxes don’t usually mess with our rubbish bags in the street – the seagulls are a much bigger problem in that respect!
I fear the foxes do occasionally take young wild birds or their eggs – certainly when I saw these two foxes the other day they were being mobbed by the crows, although they ignored them completely.
On the plus side, they do keep down vermin such as rats.
One thing I WOULD say is that they should not be encouraged or fed or treated as pets. They are still wild animals, even if they do live beside us.
There’ s a very good fact sheet about urban foxes on this link