Fox Facts - a guide for Chicken Keepers
A wild Animal who'll always be around
In the UK., estimates vary from 200,000 to 250,000. Only some 35,000 live in urban areas. Surprisingly quite small figures compared to a Rat!
The Lifespan of a Fox
In captivity a Fox could live to about the same age as a domestic Dog, about 14 years. Because of more food sources, an urban Fox may live up to 7 years old, but rural Foxes are estimated to live no more than 2 - 4 years.
The main causes for death are Road Kill and Mange.
They say that 80% of all foxes living are under one year old
What do Foxes Eat
The Fox can eat anything from small Insects, Earthworms, Fruit (Apples, Blackberries etc) upwards, but in the main, they like to hunt for larger more filling food, so this is where Rabbits and Chickens come in.
They have quite small stomachs in relation to their body size, so will dig holes to hide their food for later. This explains why you may find that a Fox has taken all of your Chickens and not just eaten one 'on site'.
They seldom share their food with other foxes, the exceptions being with their Mate during that Season and with their young.
The Year of a Fox
The year starts with the Dog and Vixen mating, this is usually January and February time. This is the time they are at their noisiest, both through their calling and actual mating procedure.
The Vixen's pregnancy lasts 53 days, so their Cubs are born anywhere from late February to April.
The Cubs will be dependant upon their Mother for about 4 weeks and it's during this time the Parents are hunting for food, so possibly the most dangerous time for those of us who keep Chickens in their Garden.
From March to June it's more 'family time' and they will play and hunt as a pack. They are close knit and very protective at this time.
Most of the young go their own way in late Summer and find their own territories. Surprisingly, this is quite a small area, probably 2 or 3 Cricket Grounds worth. It is during this time that, because they are
searching an un-occupied patch, you will find many killed on the roads.
Come the end of the year and Winter sets in, the process starts over again.
Summary with Chickens in Mind
My experience over the years is that there's no safer time of the year regarding the Fox; if he or she is hungry, they'll find food and be on the lookout for any opportunity of keeping them going. Also, the theory that they only hunt at night is wrong. Sure that is the main time, but before I learnt from my mistakes with my own Set-Up, I saw them attacking Chickens during the day - I even found one sleeping next to my Pen once!
We have to acknowledge that our Chicken's life's are in our hands, if we lose a Chicken to a Fox, 99% of the time our fault. We've either forgotten to do something or we've not spotted a weakness.
I hadn't lost a Chicken for 6 years. On Christmas morning 2010, a fox took all seven of mine. I hadn't noticed the weight of the snow had caused to make a fence panel lean enough to allow them to get in. It was not a pleasant sight.
Make sure you check your Chicken's security daily. Foxes are wonderful wild creatures who have as much right to roam our Planet as us - but it's nice not to give them any opportunities with our Chooks.