Get help with pest animals

European Foxes

European red foxes were first introduced to Australia in the 1870s for recreational hunting. Today, they have spread rapidly and become a problem across most of the country in both regional and metropolitan areas.

You can find more red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in and around cities and towns than in rural areas for the simple reason that city life suits them as there is plenty of food and shelter in urban areas.

Where do foxes live in Adelaide?

Did you know Adelaide has a large population of foxes? They can be found everywhere from our beaches to our foothills, suburbs to the CBD, even golf courses, public gardens, and Rundle Mall.

You’re more likely to spot a fox at night while they’re foraging for food. While it’s not uncommon to spot one during the day, they usually spend the daylight hours hiding under houses, sheds, and drain pipes.

Nowadays, many foxes prefer city living as food and shelter is easy to find.

They’ve become so widespread in metropolitan Adelaide’s city and suburbs as well as regional areas that eradicating them is just not feasible. Instead, it’s important we learn how to live with them and limit their access to your yard.

Foxes are extremely cautious by nature. Sometimes you won’t know a fox is around until they start causing havoc in your backyard. That’s why it’s so important we all play our role to manage foxes.

Are foxes a pest?

European red foxes are a declared pest animal under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019. There are two key elements that make an animal a pest, they are:
1. Introduced to an area where they don’t naturally occur – either accidentally or deliberately.
2. Wreaking havoc on the environment, agriculture, and or/pets.

For more information about pests in South Australia, read All you need to know about managing pest animals in Adelaide.

Why problems do foxes cause?

  • Foxes prey on some of our native animals like hooded plovers and household pets, including chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
  • Foxes carry diseases, such as mange, which can be transferred to humans and pet cats and dogs.
  • Foxes dig to create underground dens which may cause damage to buildings and sheds.
  • Foxes can be noisy and smelly. They mark their territory with urine and make a ‘screaming’ sound which is heard during the mating season (winter).
  • Foxes can be sneaky, and steal things. Some foxes are attracted to human smells and there’s been sightings of foxes stealing shoes and gardening gloves left outside. They’ve even been known to take washing hanging on the line!

Fox behaviour and lifespan

Foxes forage for food at night and hide during the day under houses, in sheds and drain pipes, under piles of timber, in hollow logs or in dense vegetation. Occasionally they are seen during the day.

They breed in spring producing three to six cubs at a time, but only a few reach maturity. Cubs generally appear in late spring, and once independent they find their own territory in autumn.

The life span of a fox in the wild can be up to 8 years. However, the average lifespan in urban areas is lower at around 1 to 3 years. Being hit by a car is a major cause of fox death in urban areas. When a fox dies another will likely move into its territory within a few days.

How do I get rid of a fox in my yard?

The best approach to managing foxes is by eliminating access to things that attract them to the area in the first place, such as easy sources of food and shelter.

There are various ways to avoid foxes in your yard. These include:

  • Good fencing and closing your gates.
  • Always bringing pet food inside, particularly at night.
  • Closing your outdoor rubbish bins.
  • Closing any holes or gaps around your house or shed to avoid a fox digging and creating a den.
  • Removing piles of materials that could be potential shelter for a fox, such as timber, bricks, and hard rubbish.
  • Setting up outdoor sensor lights and sprinklers – as foxes don’t like surprises!
  • Never feeding a fox. This will only encourage them to associate humans with food and become less wary.

To learn more, read ‘5 ways to outfox foxes in Adelaide’.

Note: Under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019, landholders are responsible for the control of foxes in their yards and properties.

Can I kill a fox in metropolitan Adelaide?

Foxes aren’t protected in South Australia so you can trap one and arrange for it to be humanely enthused via an experienced pest controller or vet.

The use of steel-jawed traps and snares is prohibited in South Australia.

But, when one fox dies, another will move into its territory in a relatively short time due to their highly territorial nature. So by taking steps to deter foxes from your yard, you’re more likely to see a lasting benefit in reducing their impact.

Conventional methods, such as shooting and baiting, aren’t recommended in metropolitan areas due to the associated risk to humans and pets.

Are foxes friendly?

Foxes aren’t a threat to humans. Although they may bite in self-defence if provoked.

If you encounter a fox, it’s important to be cautious – stay quiet and well away from the fox while giving them opportunities to escape so they don’t feel threatened.

Foxes are curious by nature so if you notice one observing you, clap and shout to scare them away. We want to teach them to avoid humans.

How do I report a fox sighting?

To check out local fox sightings and make a report to help with monitoring their movements in your area, visit