Red foxes may look cute and cuddly, but in Australia, they're a real pest. Introduced to the country in the 19th century, these invasive canines have bred and thrived, despite Australia's climate and ecosystems differing wildly from those found in the northern countries they hail from. Naturally, the introduction of such a hardy predatory species has severely reduced native wildlife populations in some areas of the country, but the red fox's adaptability has led to another problem - urban fox communities now live in major cities (Canberra in particular has reported large numbers of urban foxes), where they wreak havoc by breaking into bins and refuse bags in their search for food.
A fox attack can leave your property in a sorry state, as they tear open bags and leave rubbish strewn around. This is not only unsightly, but also unsanitary, so keeping foxes well away from your refuse bins (particularly on collection days) should be a priority for every urban resident. Fortunately, there are a number of safe and humane ways you can deter foxes from ransacking your rubbish.
Secure your rubbish
Obviously, trash should be placed in the bins provided by your local authority wherever possible, as a robust bin is a tall and imposing obstacle to a small fox. However, some particularly clever or agile foxes can still get inside an ordinary rubbish bin, especially if the lid is wedged open slightly by excessive garbage. To prevent this, a wide array of bin locks are available. These locks come in a range of configurations, but the most commonly found ones bear some resemblance to a simple C-clamp. These locks are generally very inexpensive, but very effective.
However, some areas, particularly isolated rural communities, do not have bins provided by local authorities, and the rubbish from residences is left for collection in bin bags - little protection against a hungry fox. If this is the case in your area, you might consider investing in your own secure bin, to keep rubbish in until collections days. Alternatively, heavy-duty bin bags, designed to be resistant to fox, bird and rat attacks, are available, but they can be expensive.
A wide variety of chemicals are available for effectively keeping foxes away from your property, usually by producing scents that deter or frighten approaching foxes. Some good options include:
- Ordinary dog repellent spray - These generic formulations are very cheap, and are usually effective against foxes. Cat repellent spray may also be effective. The spray should be sprayed directly onto your bins, and reapplied periodically or after rain.
- Specialised fox repellent spray - These chemical sprays are specifically designed to keep away foxes, so you can be assured of their effectiveness. However, they can be expensive, and difficult to find.
- Manure - Ordinary dog manure is a surprisingly effective fox deterrent, since foxes generally fear domestic dogs. Obviously you don't want to be spreading dog dirt across your front yard - instead, consider placing the manure in potted plants or flower beds, where it will have the added benefit of nourishing the soil. If you can't get your hands on dog manure (hopefully not literally), a more radical option is dried lion or tiger manure, ordered online or from a local zoo. Foxes are understandably terrified of the scent.
If the area where you keep your refuse is fenced off, placing prickle strips on the tops of your fences and low walls can be a cheap and effective solution. These adhesive strips are covered in rubber or plastic spines, and stop foxes from climbing over to get your refuse. The spikes are stiff enough to cause discomfort to the fox, but are not sharpened and will not harm a fox in any way.
If the foxes in your area are particularly persistent and you're willing to drop some cash on a more serious solution, consider purchasing a fox scarer. These devices are placed by your bins, and contain infra-red motion sensors. When movement is detected, the device lets off a piercing screech, too high for human ears to hear, but audible (and unbearable) to a fox. These devices are effective, but can be fragile and finicky. They are unsuitable for dog owners, or people who live close to dog owners, as the high-pitched noise also causes them distress.
If you are still unable to allay these pests, consider reaching out to a local pest control service.