Did you know Adelaide has a large population of European red foxes? Here’s 5 ways to reduce their threat to your home.

A pair of foxes standing against bright green grass
A pair of feral foxes. Photo: Reg McKenna, WikiMedia Commons

Many European red foxes prefer city living these days thanks to the easy access to food and shelter, and they’re wreaking havoc across our metropolitan, suburban and rural areas.

They can be found everywhere from our beaches to our foothills, suburbs to the CBD, even golf courses, public gardens, and Rundle Mall!

This means you may find yourself with an unwanted visitor in your backyard.

Foxes are a major problem because they:

  • Prey on some of our native animals and household pets, particularly chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.
  • Carry unwanted diseases, such as mange, that can be transferred to humans and domestic pets.
  • Wreak havoc in our backyards, digging to create underground dens and marking their territory with urine.

Why am I seeing an increase in foxes?

Around May to June, many younger foxes from the previous year’s breeding season are reaching maturity, and so they venture further to find their own territory. You are more likely to see foxes during this time as they disperse from where they were actually born, and find a new location to set-up in.

From July to October you may also see more foxes about the place, as this is their breeding season – and they’re likely to be more active while looking for a mate.

What can I do to protect my yard from foxes?

We know the best approach to managing foxes in Adelaide is by eliminating access to things that attract them to the area in the first place, such as easy sources of food (rubbish and pet food) and shelter (sheds, piles of timber, drain pipes etc).

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, particularly when your neighbours do it too.

Here's 5 ways to prepare your yard to avoid attracting foxes:

1. Reduce access to your yard

Limit access to your yard. It may sound simple, but always make sure you close your gates, especially at night.

Foxes don’t like surprises, so consider setting up sensor lights or sprinklers to scare them away.

2. Securely enclose your chicken coops and other outdoor pet shelters

Foxes are known to prey on household pets such as chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs.

The best way to protect your pets from a fox attack is to secure them in a fully enclosed pen or coop. The coop should be made from material foxes can’t jump over, chew through or dig under. It should have a roof and the sides dug in about 30 cms.

3. Tidy your yard and remove access to potential shelter

Foxes will seek shelter and make a home under houses, in sheds and drain pipes and under piles of timber.

Make sure you remove or block access to these types of shelter options in your yard.

4. Don’t leave food outside, particularly at night

Foxes living a city life become scavengers and feed on anything, plus they also have a strong sense of smell. By leaving food like pet food and open rubbish bins out, you may be unknowingly inviting a fox into your yard.

Always bring pet food inside overnight, ensure your rubbish bins are closed and properly secure, and clean up fruit that’s fallen from backyard trees. Yes, foxes like to eat fruit!

5. Never feed a fox!

It’s important to never feed a fox as this only encourages them to associate humans with food and they will become less wary of people. This humanised behaviour can pass down to future generations and will only make it worse in the long-term.

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

If you continue to have issues with a fox in your yard after following the above advice, you may consider trapping the fox and arranging for them to be humanely euthanized through a pest controller or vet.

However, foxes are very cautious by nature, so trapping them is often difficult. In line with biosecurity legislation, a trapped fox can’t be released, so it’s important to have a plan in place before trapping the fox.

Large-size cage traps can be purchased through agricultural product retailers or direct from wire product manufacturers.

Conventional methods of removing a fox, such as shooting and baiting, isn’t recommended in metropolitan areas due to the associated risk to humans and pets.

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

If you need further support, it’s recommended you contact a local licensed pest controller.

Who can I call to remove a fox from my yard?

Landholders are responsible for the control of foxes in their yards and properties under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019. If you need support with removing a fox from your yard, it’s recommended you contact a local licensed pest controller.

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 feralscan.org.au.

This blog was originally published in August 2022.

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