Frequently Asked Questions
Urban and rural foxes:
- Are there more foxes in urban areas than in the countryside?
- Are urban foxes less healthy than rural foxes?
- Are urban foxes different to rural foxes?
- Are urban foxes being dumped in the countryside?
- Is it true that you can always recognise an urban fox that has been dumped in the countryside because it is tame and approaches people, and/or is mangy, and/or is hungry because it does not know how to hunt properly in the country, and/or has much shorter claws from running around on pavements?
TopAre there more foxes in urban areas than in the countryside?
No: although urban fox densities are generally higher that those in rural areas, only about 13% of the British fox population lives in urban areas. People rarely see foxes in the countryside, whereas urban foxes are much less wary of people. Since foxes are seen more often in cities, this gives the impression that there are more urban than rural foxes.
TopAre urban foxes less healthy than rural foxes?
This is a myth: some people refer to urban foxes as "dustbin" foxes, implying that they are in poor condition and live by scavenging scraps from dustbins. Urban foxes rarely scavenge from dustbins, and are no more or less healthy than rural foxes.
TopAre urban foxes different to rural foxes?
No: in fact they are often the same animals, because foxes readily move between urban and rural areas. Fox cubs born in the middle of Bristol have dispersed out of the city and ended up living on the top of the Mendip Hills some 25 kilometres away.
TopAre urban foxes being dumped in the countryside?
This is a long-standing myth. The story is invariably that someone knows someone who saw a white van full of urban foxes being dumped in the countryside. Unfortunately, no one has ever had the gumption to record the number of the van. Catching foxes is a slow process; catching a van load would take a long time. Yet no one has ever been found with a shed full of foxes waiting to be released (since foxes are both smelly and noisy, they would be extremely difficult to hide). This story has been around for at least a quarter of a century and is still frequently repeated, despite the absence of any evidence that such practices occur. For much of this time, the RSPCA and League Against Cruel Sports have offered rewards for anyone producing evidence of foxes being dumped in the countryside: they remain unclaimed.
TopIs it true that you can always recognise an urban fox that has been dumped in the countryside because it is tame and approaches people, and/or is mangy, and/or is hungry because it does not know how to hunt properly in the country, and/or has much shorter claws from running around on pavements?
All these assertions are myths. Young foxes, both rural and urban, can be inquisitive and approach people, until they learn better! Mange is no more prevalent in urban than rural foxes, and urban foxes are perfectly capable of hunting in the countryside. However, young foxes start foraging for themselves in July, after their parents stop provisioning them, and this is why they are often hungry, especially in hot, dry summers. Rural fox cubs may well find it harder to feed themselves than cubs living in urban areas, where they are often fed by local residents. As for having shorter claws, urban foxes spend most of their time foraging in gardens, not running up and down the roads.