Fox-watching can be a fun way to get back in touch with the wildlife in your area without creating a nuisance animal. Foxes are usually docile and shy with humans, and they are easy to attract to your yard if you know what to do.
Here are 10 ways to attract foxes to your yard:
- Put out food bait in winter
- Use food with a strong odor
- Place bait near cover
- Keep noise down
- Plant shrubs
- Create a compost heap
- Provide burrow sites
- Plant fruit trees
- Keep bird feeders
- Provide water
Inviting foxes and not breaking any laws or creating dependence is a fine line, so before your start, it is vital to understand the implications of intentionally encouraging these wild animals.
How to Attract Foxes to Your Yard
If there are foxes in your region and the conditions in your yard are right, you will soon be able to enjoy sightings of these shy animals.
The most common types of foxes that you will be likely to attract are red or grey foxes which occur across the entire North American continent. If you live in one of the northern states, you may spot an arctic fox. The smallest of all the foxes is the super-cute kit fox which lives in desert areas.
Keep in mind that attracting a fox to your yard with an occasional treat is not the same as having a pet. The existence of a wild animal should never depend on a human feeding it, so create a suitable habitat, but do so in a sustainable manner for the animal.
Foxes are wild animals, and no attempt must ever be made to get close to them or pet them, no matter how tame they may seem.
If you have other animals, especially chickens, outdoor cats, or small dogs, it is not advisable to attract foxes. Although they are usually nocturnal, they may become familiar with your yard and snatch up an unsuspecting pet if they visit regularly.
Foxes are widespread and thrive in even the most inhospitable environments because they are adaptable and highly opportunistic. These clever little omnivorous creatures are not fussy and will eat whatever they can find to sustain themselves.
Attracting foxes may not be something everyone supports, so if you live close to neighbors, first chat with them to avoid misunderstandings.
Remember that if you love wildlife and are fascinated with these cute mammals, you should only find ways to attract foxes to your property by making the environment suitable. You should not provide a consistent food station to make them dependent on handouts.
In rules set out by the US Dept of Agriculture, it is illegal to feed wildlife. The reason for this is that it may encourage the animals to forego their natural foraging or scavenging behavior which will interrupt their normal behavior patterns.
Foxes do not have the bad rap that opossums and raccoons have because they are far less bold and tend to stay out of trouble. They are not the usual suspects that raid garbage bins or make noise.
Of course, there is no point in attracting a fox to your yard if you and your family can’t see it, so be sure to set up some lights in the corner of your yard where you are hoping it will visit.
Keep the fox spotting area quite a distance from your home. You should be able to enjoy observing visiting foxes from your window or porch, but it is not advisable to encourage them to come too close.
So, if you suspect that there may be a family of foxes living near your yard and you would like to catch a glance of them occasionally, then let’s get everything ready to go fox spotting!
1 – Start Offering a Small Bait in Winter
Winter is when a fox needs to engage all its survival skills to survive. The long summer days of trees with abundant fruit are no more, and foxes need to rely on their incredible scavenger and hunting skills to track prey like rodents that they can hear even below a layer of snow.
Therefore, this cold season is the perfect time to set out a small bait that will encourage foxes to move through your yard. Keep in mind you should not be providing a full meal for the animals as they will quickly become dependent on you.
During winter, there will be less distracting smells around, so any fox in the area will be able to hone in on your offering quickly. Once the animal has established that your yard is a safe zone, it is likely to continue to visit throughout the year.
2 – Use Food with a Strong Odor
If you have an area of the yard that would be a suitable habitat for foxes in terms of natural food sources, safety, and shelter, you can encourage the animals to move into the area by setting out small portions of food that have a strong smell.
Foxes eat a variety of food and even eggs and fruit, but when initially trying to attract these creatures, you will need something with a pungent smell. Tinned dog food, meat, or fish flavor cat food will work well to get a fox’s attention.
Set the food out in a quiet, well-lit area early in the evening. Do not be disappointed if, at first, you only attract possums or raccoons. Any increase in animal activity in an area will encourage an elusive fox to come and investigate.
Remove all leftover bait every morning, or it may attract flies, rats, or neighboring pets. You can set out fresh food again at dusk.
3 – Make Bait Accessible
To attract foxes to your yard, the animal must feel safe. Although they have fantastic digging and jumping skills, they are less likely to visit an area where they may get trapped inside.
When setting out your small food offering to attract the foxes in your area, ensure they have a clear path to get away if something frightens them. They are more likely to investigate food that you put out if they can reach it easily.
4 – Keep Noise Down
One of the reasons foxes are great additions to the landscape is because they usually don’t become a nuisance. They can easily be deterred by a lot of human activity and noise.
If you want to attract foxes to your yard, become aware of the noise coming from your house. Barking dogs, jiggly chimes on the porch, or a loud television are all likely to frighten foxes who have acute hearing.
5 – Plant Shrubs to Create Cover
The reason it is so special to spot a fox is that they are not animals that walk usually walk about boldly out in the open. They often hide in bushy undergrowth and come out when it is quiet, and they feel safe.
You can make your property more inviting to attract foxes by planting low-growing shrubs, especially around the perimeter. This will provide some hiding places for visiting foxes to hide while checking out the environment.
Lots of bush plants in the yard will also provide shelter for foxes. They may even burrow under large plants that provide adequate cover to set up dens.
If you don’t already have a lot of thick shrubs in your yard, consider planting fox-friendly varieties like blueberry, blackberry, or raspberry plants. Besides providing cover, fruit or berry-producing plants will produce a sustainable food source for the animals.
6 – Create a Compost Heap
To attract foxes to your yard, you should try to attract their natural prey, which specifically includes rodents. Creating an orderly, hygienic compost pile in a quiet, perimeter area that is a reasonable distance away from your home will likely become a good hunting ground for foxes.
A compost pile and a garbage area are not the same, so be careful only to add organic scraps that will turn into fertile compost when they break down. Compost piles should be defined areas with low sides so that scraps don’t get scattered about in your yard.
To keep a compost pile from becoming an unhygienic area, be sure to also add lawn clippings and leaves along with food scraps. It is also important to turn the compost regularly.
7 – Provide Burrow Sites
An excellent way to attract foxes to your yard is to create places where they can shelter. Foxes dig burrows into the ground or find covered spots like under fallen trees or woodpiles.
Foxes occasionally shelter or even have cubs under wooden decks, so if you are attracting them to your yard, always try to deter them from coming too close to your home.
Fallen trees are excellent places for foxes to burrow underneath, so if you have felled any trees, you may consider leaving one or two large trunks at the edge of your yard. This creates a natural, sheltered habitat for foxes to burrow under.
8 – Plant Fruit Trees
Attracting foxes sustainably is about creating an environment where they can live without being dependent on humans. One of the best methods to do this is to plant fruit trees.
Foxes are omnivorous scavengers and will readily eat any fallen fruit. Interestingly, gray foxes have adapted to climb trees, a unique ability among foxes that allows them to also search for birds eggs and chicks in trees.
Besides fruit that may fall when it is ripe, adding fruit trees will attract birds and rodents, the natural prey of foxes, so having some fruit trees in your yard is an excellent way to attract these animals.
9 – Keep Bird Feeders
Hang bird feeders on the perimeter of your yard in areas where you would like foxes to visit. Any seeds that fall can be a nutritious food source for these little animals.
In addition to attracting birds, mice and other small rodents can be attracted by seeds that fall on the ground. This will bring in the foxes that prey on them.
Do not hang seed bird feeders around your porch if you want to attract foxes to the woodland edge of your yard. Remember, neither foxes nor any other wildlife should be encouraged to come too close to humans, and you should only aim to view these beautiful animals from a distance.
10 – Provide Water to Attract Foxes
To encourage foxes and other wildlife to visit your yard, it will help a lot if you have a reliable water source. Animals tend to congregate around water points, so if you don’t live near a pond or stream, you will definitely see more wildlife if you create one.
If you have space, creating a small pond in your yard is an ideal way to attract foxes. It doesn’t have to be a huge pond to attract frogs and birds and any number of other animals that foxes can prey on.
Creating a garden pond can be a fun project that doesn’t need to take up a lot of space. Here are instructions on how to create a simple yet highly effective mini-pond that will not only become a watering point for foxes but can be an attractive yard feature.
Just remember to keep topping up your pond with rainwater. Also, foxes can grab fish out of ponds, so it is not a good idea to create a valuable koi pond in an area where there are foxes!
Four species of foxes occur naturally in North America. They are usually elusive animals, and catching a glimpse of one can be exciting.
Foxes are wild animals, and it is important that humans do not directly interact with them or upset their natural movement or behavior by creating dependence.
It is possible to attract foxes to your yard by making the environment as hospitable as possible. This includes providing sustainable food sources, shelter, and water.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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