When to help Foxes
Modified on: Sat, 20 Nov, 2021 at 2:57 PM
Their successful adaptation to urban life unfortunately provides foxes with a lot of potential for injury or illness. Thousands of foxes are hurt or killed on the roads each year and living in close quarters in urban areas can lead to fighting and disease. Perhaps the most common issues wildlife rescues are contacted about are limps and fur loss (usually caused by sarcoptic mange).
When to rescue
A fox hit by a car
The animal will need to be assessed for concussion, shock and other injuries.
A fox attacked by a dog
The animal will need to be assessed for injuries and shock.
A fox trapped in netting, fencing or wire
Do not attempt to free it yourself - call a rescue for help ASAP
An adult fox which can be approached
Although foxes are used to living close to humans, they should still react to our presence with fear. If the fox cannot or does not attempt to run away, it is in need of help.
When to take other action
A fox with some fur loss or crusty skin
The fox likely has sarcoptic mange. Find out how to help here.
A lone cub with no siblings or parents in sight
The baby may be in trouble or it may be that Mum dropped him while moving him and will return soon. Observe from a distance and call a rescue for advice.
A disturbed den of babies with no mother
If a den is disturbed, for example during garden work, cover the babies back over, leave the area and contact a rescue for advice urgently.
A fox with a limp
Read our advice on how to assess whether the fox needs help here
When to leave alone
A healthy fox out during the day
Foxes are habitually nocturnal but they are active during the day and do enjoy 'sunbathing'. As long as the fox looks well and responds normally to your presence, this isn't a cause for concern.
A den of babies with no mother around
It is normal for mothers to spend time away from their babies. Unless the den has been disturbed, cubs are injured or in danger observe from a distance. If there is no sign of an adult after a few hours call a rescue for advice. Try not to touch the cubs.
Capture, Containment and Care
Never attempt to capture an adult fox yourself – a scared fox can give you a serious bite.
Upon contacting a wildlife rescue for help with an injured adult fox, you will commonly be asked to approach it first. The reason for this is that there is no point a rescue sending a team out to a fox which simply hops up and runs away when they get there. To save time, if you see an injured adult fox, check whether it is mobile before calling the wildlife rescue. Walk up to the fox and try to get within about six foot of the animal. Don’t worry, it will not attack, if able it will simply run away. If the fox remains still, call a wildlife rescue immediately. If it starts to move away but is clearly slow and impaired, retreat immediately but try to observe where the fox goes before calling for help. If the fox is injured but still mobile then it’s very unlikely that a wildlife rescue team will be able to capture it and trying to do so would cause the fox a great deal of stress. In these situations, the rescue may be able to set a humane cage trap which they will ask you to bait with food.
Although a cub may be less dangerous, we would still advise that you call a wildlife rescue before handling the baby unless they are in immediate danger. In this instance, you can bundle the cub up with a thick towel and place it in a large cardboard box or pet carrier. It is not generally necessary or advisable to provide food and water. Feeding a shocked, ill, or weakened animal can cause lethal complications. Never offer cow’s milk or alcohol to any wildlife.
NB: this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours or overnight. If you are not able to get the animal to a wildlife rescue promptly, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period. If you want to care for the casualty yourself rather than taking it to a rescue, please read the information here.
You can find rescues in your area by putting your location into the search facility at directory.helpwildlife.co.uk. If you are unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, you can contact us via helpwildlife.co.uk/helpdesk and our volunteers will give you advice and support.
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