7 Easy Tips To Keep Foxes Out Of Your Swimming Pool

Lawn chairs overlooking backyard and swimming pool

Along with summer comes cookouts, vacations, and lots and lots of swimming pool time! While we don’t mind sharing swimming pools with other people, foxes are another matter. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep foxes out of your swimming pool.

The best way to keep foxes out of your swimming pool is to build a 6ft tall fence, which is too tall for a fox to jump over. Use a pool cover and keep the area clean to attract less foxes to the area overall. If a fox is in your pool, use a partially deflated pool floaty to give them an exit.

Below, we’ll go over 7 easy ways to keep foxes out of your swimming pool. We’ll also talk about why foxes are attracted to your pool in the first place. Let’s get to it!

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Why Are Foxes Attracted To Your Swimming Pool?

Foxes, although elusive around humans, are a common animal found throughout most of North America. The two most common species are the red fox and the gray fox.

Red foxes are more likely to end up in swimming pools than gray foxes because of their preferred habitat. Red foxes have adapted to living in suburban, agricultural, and even urban conditions, while gray foxes still prefer wooded habitats.

Whether you have red or gray foxes in your area, either might end up in your swimming pool.

What exactly attracts foxes for an evening dip in your swimming pool?

  • Accident: Foxes may fall into pools by accident. This is especially true if the pool is not fenced in and is surrounded by tall grass or fescue.
  • Food: If you’ve recently had a pool party and pepperoni pizza slices are floating in the pool, foxes may try to get at the fallen food. Fruits and seeds that fall from trees into pools are other attractants.
  • Chasing prey: Foxes hunt by either giving chase to prey or stalking it until they are close enough to pounce. If they are chasing prey and the prey tries to escape via a pool, foxes may jump in to chase after it.
  • Source of water: Chlorine-filled pool water may not taste great, but foxes will use it as a source of drinking water if they can’t find anything else. Standing water on pool covers is another source of water for foxes.

Foxes are mostly nocturnal, which means their swimming pool adventures may happen without you being aware of it. However, foxes are pretty adaptable and may go for a swim during the day.

As a general rule of thumb, foxes do not enjoy swimming. They can and will swim when they have to, but they’re more similar to cats when it comes to water.

That being said, it’s not unheard of for foxes to hang out around pools. Abandoned pools that still have water may attract foxes because they are attracted to frogs and other critters living in the abandoned pool.

You can also take a peak at the places where foxes live during the day for more information on WHERE they come from to get into your pool, if you’d like.

7 Steps To Keep Foxes Out Of Your Swimming Pool

European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) walking on grass in the dunes in bush of common sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) in background

Foxes are becoming more and more accustomed to living near urban environments. Much like coyotes, raccoons, and pigeons, foxes take advantage of human cities, towns, and suburban neighborhoods.

You don’t have to live in a city to have a pool, though, and rural foxes can be a nuisance in the yard just as much as an urban fox.

If you’ve seen a fox near (or in!) your pool, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep them out and away from your summer oasis.

Fence In Your Pool

One of the most effective ways to keep all wildlife out of your pool is to construct a fence. Many homeowners already have a fence around their pool for privacy, but not all.

According to Rutgers University, fences should be 6 feet high to deter foxes from jumping or climbing over.

Foxes are excellent climbers and may climb over a chain-link fence or something similar that provides good fox paw-holds. Wooden fences may be a better option and will look better in the yard than a chain-link fence anyway.

In addition to having a fence high enough, you’ll also want a fence that’s deep enough. Foxes are skilled burrowers. For this reason, it’s a good idea to bury the fencing 12 inches into the ground.

Fencing is an expensive option, but it’s also the most effective. If you’re having problems with other wildlife, a fence is a good option to keep anything nature has to throw at you out of your pool.

Use A Pool Cover To Keep Foxes Out

As we mentioned before, foxes aren’t too keen on swimming in your pool. If they’re stopping by, they’re most likely looking for a drink or are near your pool by accident.

To ensure that those pesky foxes stay OUT of your pool, use a pool cover over the water when it’s not in use. The most important time to use a pool cover is at night when foxes are most active.

Understanding the behavior of the creatures meddling in your yard is an important part of keeping them away. If you’d like, you can read more about when foxes come out at night and how to repel them!

If it’s possible, try to keep standing water off the pool cover. Foxes may be attracted to fresh rainwater that sits on top of the pool cover.

Eliminate Attractants In The Yard

One major way to deter foxes from your pool is to deter them from your yard entirely. Make your yard whatever the opposite of a fox’s haven is!

So, what is the opposite of a fox’s haven? To make your yard unattractive to foxes, you’ll want to eliminate food sources, cover, and den locations.

A study reported in the Canadian Journal of Zoology found that red foxes thrive in urban environments mainly because of the availability of food. It may be the most important way to keep foxes out of your yard.

  • Garbage bins: Raccoons are often blamed for spilled garbage at night, but foxes will feast on food scraps from the trash bin as well. Consider storing your bins in a shed until garbage day or using bungee cords to keep the lids secure.

Alternatively, you can purchase something like Blazer Brand’s Strong Strap Stretch Latch, which will fit most garbage cans and requires no tools to install. This way, even if your bins get knocked over, the garbage will not spill out.

  • Bird feeders: Foxes are omnivores and will eat certain seeds that fall to the ground from bird feeders. But the main reason bird feeders attract foxes is because they attract mice and rats, which foxes hunt. Sweep up spilled birdseed or consider installing a catcher tray.
  • Tall grass: Foxes use tall grass as cover while stalking prey or moving from place to place. Keep your grass mowed and try to avoid tall grasses and fescues around the pool.
  • Leaf litter and brush piles: Both things will attract rodents to the yard, which will attract foxes. Try to rake up leaves and eliminate any brush piles in the yard.
  • Pet food: Like bird seed, foxes will eat pet food if it’s left out at night. Pet food can also attract mice and other rodents that foxes like to hunt.
  • Untrimmed bushes: Bushes that reach the ground and provide suitable cover will attract foxes. Keep bushes trimmed so that the bottom is open.
  • Decks, porches, and sheds: The space underneath your porch or shed provides the perfect denning area for foxes. If your pool deck is raised off the ground, this can be another location that foxes will use.

To keep foxes out of this area, you can use hardware cloth to seal up those areas. Foxivo’s Hardware Cloth works great. Foxivo makes a variety of sizes as well to fit any size deck or shed.

Foxes rarely sleep in dens unless they are rearing their kits. Protecting the areas under buildings is most important around February and March when foxes are looking for dens.

Just be sure foxes haven’t already moved in before attaching the hardware cloth! You can read more about what attracts foxes to your yard here.

Run Your Pool Regularly To Deter Foxes

Pools are typically connected to a pump that will kick on to circulate water and run the skimmer/filter in the pool.

The sound of the pump or the rippling of the water may deter foxes that are exploring the area around your pool. Setting your pump to kick on a few times each night can help repel foxes from the area.

The moving water will also help prevent foxes from falling into pools by accident. They will see the surface rippling and be more vigilant around the edges.

Remember, in the wild, foxes can usually wade into cricks and rivers via a shallow bank. For pools, the drop-off can be steep. Anything you can do to alert a fox to the pool’s presence will help keep them away.

Keep Up With Pool Maintenance

Cleaning leaves from the swimming pool

This goes hand in hand with running the pool regularly. If you maintain chlorine levels, keep algae in check, and keep the pool clear of debris, foxes are less likely to take a dip in your swimming pool.

Chlorine is used to clean pools and keep them sanitary for swimmers. Most pool owners know that they have to add some type of chlorine product to their pools, usually placed in a cute little floaty that slowly dissolves the chlorine tablets over time.

Chlorine can also come in the form of ‘shock’ products, but not always. Chlorine, shock, and algaecide all work in tandem to keep pools in tip-top shape and to keep foxes OUT.

Foxes have an incredible sense of smell, and if the water doesn’t smell natural or ‘clean’, they’re less likely to come near it.

In addition to keeping up with the proper chemicals, keeping your pool clear of debris will discourage foxes from using the pool.

If there are a ton of leaves, twigs, and seeds floating in the pool, this will attract foxes. Dropped food in the pool can also attract these elusive animals.

Use Scare Tactics To Keep Foxes Away From Your Pool

Foxes are naturally skittish animals that will flee at the first sign of trouble. Scare tactics are an effective way to keep foxes away from your pool.

There’s a little more to it than just yelling BOO, though.

Scare tactics need to be switched up from time to time if you have a persistent fox. They also need to be scary enough to drive the fox away, but not so scary that the fox is harmed.

There are a variety of tools you can use to scare off foxes:

  • Motion-activated sprinkler: Motion-activated sprinklers work GREAT at repelling wild animals. They send a blast of water at animals that get too close, scaring them harmlessly. 

The Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer comes with the option to set it for nighttime only when foxes are most active.

  • Motion-activated lights: Floodlights are more of a passive deterrent but can still be effective, especially against nocturnal animals like foxes.
  • Pinwheels: It may seem silly, but anything new and moving can be enough to scare off skittish foxes. Set them up around your pool to deter foxes.
  • Use your voice: If you see foxes sneaking around your pool during the day, gently scare them off by yelling or clapping.
  • Predator scents: Adult foxes have few predators, but wolves and coyotes are among them. Using scents from these predators will deter foxes from certain areas.

You can also use some of the specific natural scents that keep foxes away as repellents!

You can also get creative and hang soup cans full of pennies around the pool, wind chimes, radios, pretty much anything that makes noise!

You can find more information about using radios specifically to deter foxes with this how-to guide here on Pest Pointers!

As we mentioned before, you’ll want to switch up the scare tactics every few weeks to keep foxes on their toes!

Give Foxes An Escape Route

When foxes find their way near or even IN your pool, it could be by accident. They may have fallen in while chasing prey or could have smelled food near the water. Not to mention baby foxes are pretty clumsy…

No matter the reason a fox has decided to take a swim in your pool, you’ll want to provide them with a way of getting out.

While foxes are decent swimmers and climbers, they don’t always know the proper etiquette for exiting the pool. Here’s where you can help them out!

Provide foxes with a ramp to exit the pool safely. Petstep Dog Ramp for Pools is large enough to support foxes and other animals that may fall in by accident.

There are also smaller devices called ‘Frog Logs’ that would be helpful to baby foxes if they accidentally fall in, but they are not large enough to support adult foxes.

At the very least, you can throw in a floating device like a pool noodle or raft at night that will prevent the fox from getting too tired if they can’t escape the pool. Just be aware you will eventually have to get them out.

What To Do If You Find A Fox In Your Swimming Pool

Red fox at the small pond with reflection

There’s nothing more shocking than getting ready to take a dip in the swimming pool only to find a wild animal beat you to it!

If you find a fox in your pool and you haven’t installed a ramp or escape device, there are still things you can do to get the fox out.

Use a partially deflated floaty and place it half in the water to provide an escape ramp. It’s not the prettiest ramp and your favorite flamingo floaty may get destroyed, but at least you won’t have a fox in the pool anymore!

Allow the fox to get out on its own and give it plenty of space. Depending on how long it has been swimming, it may be tired and need to rest for a few minutes before trotting back off into the woods.

Another option is to contact a professional. Our nationwide pest control finder can help get you in contact with a wildlife professional near you that can get the fox safely out of the pool.

If the fox swam a little too long, contacting a wildlife professional is the best option for removal as well. They will be able to advise you on how to proceed.

That’s A Wrap!

Red and gray foxes are a special sight to see around the home. They are very skittish and rarely come close enough to be seen by people.

That being said, there are a few ways that they can end up in your swimming pool, whether it be by accident or if they were chasing prey or attracted to food.

To keep foxes out of your swimming pool, you can employ these 7 easy tips:

  • Fence the pool
  • Cover the pool – especially at night
  • Eliminate attractants – food, cover, den areas
  • Run your pool regularly
  • Keep up with pool maintenance
  • Scare tactics
  • Provide an escape from the pool

The best way to keep foxes out of your swimming pool is to combine these tactics. This way, you don’t have to share any of your summer oasis with those rascally foxes!

References

Deplazes, P., Hegglin, D., Gloor, S., & Romig, T. (2004, February). Wilderness in the city: the urbanization of Echinococcus multilocularis. Trends in Parasitology, 20(2), 77-84.

Eakin, C. J., Hunter Jr, M. L., & Calhoun, A. J.K. (2018). Bird and mammal use of vernal pools along an urban development gradient. Urban Ecosystems, 21, 1029-1041.

Ghoshal, A. (2011). Impact of urbanization on winter resource use and relative abundance of a commensal carnivore, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) [M.Sc dissertation thesis]. Forest Research Institute University.

Handler, A. M., Lonsdorf, E. V., & Ardia, D. R. (2019, November 12). Evidence for red fox (Vulpes vulpes) exploitation of anthropogenic food sources along an urbanization gradient using stable isotope analysis. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 98(2), 79-87.

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