What Time Do Foxes Come Out At Night? (Repelling Guide)

Cute Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes in fall forest. Beautiful animal in the nature habitat. Wildlife scene from the wild nature. Red fox running in orange autumn leaves

Foxes are one of the most elusive animals, always thought of, but rarely seen. With this begs the question – what time do foxes come out at night?

Foxes like to come out when it begins to get dark outside and generally go back into their dens during the daytime. In most time zones, this means that foxes will start to come out around 8-9 P.M, and will start to leave around 5-6 A.M depending on the time of year.

Whether or not foxes come out at night or during the day, you’re most likely here because you’re wondering just why the heck they’re near your property! Read on to learn more about why foxes are on your property, how to keep them away at night and some long-term fox repelling tips.

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Why Do Foxes Come Out At Night?

When everything is normal and there are no young-ins to worry about, foxes come out around sundown or just before and hunt all night. At daylight savings time you can catch them out just before dawn.

However, just why do foxes come out at night?

In truth, foxes see incredibly well during the dark and are at an advantage when going after their favorite small game such as field mice, birds and other small game. Since foxes have this natural ability to see well at night, they’re naturally nocturnal as a result.

If you’re wondering, you can read about where foxes go during the day here.

Why Do You Need To Keep Foxes Away?

Close up of a Red fox walking on the fence in the back garden

First, let’s make it clear that humans, cats, and dogs are not viewed as prey to the fox. They will go after things like rabbits, rodents, chickens, and small animals. 

So, why keep foxes away in the first place? Let’s look at some important reasons to keep foxes out and away from your house.

Never, ever try to approach a fox on your own, please.

Foxes Can Destroy Livestock

If you make a living from raising chickens or other small livestock animals and their eggs, then you’re probably aware that foxes go after these types of livestock.

I remember sitting on our back porch as a little guy and seeing a fox for the first time. It was a cute, small adult. He was off in the distance near the back woods and we saw him skitter on by. Luckily, we didn’t have chickens back then!

If you want to learn more, take a look at our article on keeping foxes away from your chickens.

Foxes Love Your Garbage

A wild fox in the forest wanders among debris

For a fox, your trash is heaven! Foxes are scavengers, which means they find fast and easy meals in your garbage. 

Primarily, you’ll find that foxes will go after your outdoor trash cans which presents a larger scale problem if your lid isn’t sealed down well enough.

You can try to make some noise that may scare the fox away like banging pots and pans or shouting shoo! Well, that may or may not work. Foxes are smart and they may not feel threatened.

You can read more about identifying fox noises (like a fox rummaging through your trash) in our article about the sounds and noises that foxes make here to make sure you’ve actually got a fox issue once they come up!

How To Deter Foxes From Coming Out At Night

OK – now on to the other banishing methods. 

Here are a few scents that you can use that may help repel foxes and keep them at bay. Of course, these methods aren’t guaranteed. The best surefire way to keep foxes away is to make the environment unappealing, which will be discussed later. 

Please note that our best recommendation is to have the fox’s appealing environment removed – these scents below may work for you, but there are TONS of variables that we can’t always account for. For best results, consult with a local wildlife control agency if you have any concerns!

Chili Pepper Can Be Used To Deter Foxes

Peri peri chilli sauce in a glass bowl next to three red chillies isolated on white.

Topping our list is the use of Chili pepper!

Foxes HATE the smell of chili pepper. Even better, chili pepper water will not harm foxes, but rather, it can act as a deterrent. It doesn’t last all that long, if it rains it will be washed away so reapply often. 

Chili pepper is easy to get and not that expensive. It will permeate the water so you can make a big batch of it. 

To use it as a fox deterrent you’ll have to spray it in the garden on the areas that don’t have plants you can’t harm. On grassy areas and near areas, they’ve been sighted. 

So, for instance, you could make a 12-ounce bottle and spray near and under any gaps, in the porch or barn, and any other area, they may hide. The object is to not allow them to get comfortable enough to create a den or get food regularly.

You can read more about using chili pepper to deter foxes in our article about smells foxes hate!

Foxes Hate Garlic 

There’s one smell and taste that they hate even more than chili Pepper and that’s garlic. 

Follow the same process as you would the chili Pepper. Mix them to make a big batch for the fox and spray in areas where foxes are frequenting in your yard.

White Vinegar Can Be Used To Deter Foxes

Composition with vinegar and lemon on table. Space for text

You could imagine how yuck a snout full of pure white vinegar is to any living creature. You can use vinegar straight, no need to dilute it.

Make sure you use the vinegar alone. It tends to drown out the other scents so don’t waste the more expensive stuff. 

You could place a bowl of vinegar out where you know the fox frequents. Or, you could wipe down leaves and plants you aren’t growing for food. Simply spray it as you would the other scents we’ve mentioned. Reapply frequently as it will evaporate. The bowl filled with vinegar is a better bet if you want it to last longer. 

White vinegar is effective and not apple cider vinegar. Acetic acid is the awful taste we want. 

Deterrent Sprays Work Well Against Foxes

Deterrent sprays that are made for domesticated dogs such as this Zone No Holes! Spray can also work. Spray around the area where the fox sniffs and may find a food source. One sniff and it’s a wrap. 

Deterrent sprays are used to keep dogs away from areas you don’t want them to mark on among other things. 

The scent is usually pretty powerful to them and other animals, but not necessarily humans 

Ammonia-type smells are what we’re after for the best results. Ammonia on a rag is the old-world way of doing it and cat urine isn’t exactly an engraved invitation to stick around. 

There are more official chemical repellents that you can buy like this repel all. One great example are these Bonide Repel-All granules. Try it if the more natural, kitchen methods don’t work. 

There are other strategies apart from scents that help deter or eradicate the fox visitations. 

Remove Den Material To Get Rid Of Foxes

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

The fox will try to choose an area that has it all–much like Paris in Springtime! Good food and warm accommodation for the whole family. Great for rodent watching and afternoon tea. That space comes in many forms around the typical home. Below are some spaces you may want to make undesirable to foxes. 

Long-term situations must come from making your garden an invitation to foxes. You won’t achieve this with sprays and smelly things for too long. If your yard has everything on the foxes checklist, they may be back to build anyway. 

Country living entails having all that is applicable on the short-list below. There may be ways around some of the solutions. You may need to sacrifice some aspects for a time, to deter the persistent fox. 

  1. Compost Heap: A compost heap is an essential aspect of any farm or country-style living and self-sufficiency. However, if it contains eggs, dairy, or meat byproducts in it then you’ve created an invitation to the fox.
  2. High Grasses: High grasses are a great place for them to hide and hunt as well as build a den. Maybe not in the grass, but with the materials that a good stiff grass can offer.
  3. Wild Vegetation: Same attraction as the high grasses.
  4. Trash, Wood, Brush Piles: Trash piles may need to be disposed of more often or covered and sprayed with detergent. Check with local laws before doing anything unusual. Wood and brush piles create a place to build a den. The brush can be formed into a den if stiff enough.
  5. Under the Porch: If you find a spot in front of the porch that looks dug into you may have some kind of animal space. We don’t suggest just filling it in in case there are young-ins in there. Call animal control if you aren’t comfortable looking for them. Use caution if you do as mom may not take kindly to you poking your snout in her den.
     
  6. Dog Houses and Igloos: If you have a dog house or igloo and it’s unoccupied for long enough periods, you may find new occupants in it. You may want to find a way to secure the entrance when not in use. Take them off the property if they won’t be used any time soon. 

Use A Radio To Deter Foxes

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of standard electronic (ultrasonic) deterrents as there’s been some past issues with them. However, a great example of an electric deterrent that can work is using a radio!

By plugging a radio into an area where foxes frequent, that curious fox in your yard will think humans are nearby and thus, will stay further away as a result.

You can read more about repelling foxes with a radio here.

Long Term Solution: Keeping Foxes Away With Habitat Modification

When you apply all the methods here, they will need to be reapplied several times as we stated at the beginning of that section. We don’t know how effective they are. Habitat modification is the number one way to combat the fox invasion. 

That’s why we listed the few places that you may never think to look and clear so the fox doesn’t use it. 

Here are some practical ways on how to stop the fox from being attracted to your yard.

Maintain A Clean Backyard To Keep Foxes Away

Always clean your backyard. Remove all fallen fruits and vegetation that may be giving a nice scent as they rot. Clean up anything there including rubber tires or any other debris from your land that may be laying there from farming equipment etc. 

Covering Your Garbage Can Deter Foxes

Anything they can find to scavenge, they will and they love a buffet of human food. Face it, we eat well most of the time. At least better than most wild animals on any budget. Foxes are much like those gypsy bandits–the Racoons. 

If you’ve ever dealt with Racoons, you’ve had the Bootcamp already. You can handle foxes just the same. At least where scavenging and cleverness are concerned. 

Hey, that would be a great reality show. A scavenging contest between the bandits and the fox! 

Securing Small Pets Prevents Foxes

If you must keep small pets outside or anywhere like a barn or a space on a porch you need to know this. 

Make sure you have a secure cage or covering for them. The typical accouterment won’t cut it. Chicken wire and any locks that are latches that can be twisted or flipped to open are too flimsy for a fox. 

Locks and stronger metal cages or other material that can’t be broken into, torn, or pulled apart easily. 

That’s A Wrap!

Remember that the best way to deal with the fox is to take a proactive approach to your entire living area. Keep the area well landscaped. Land that’s too wild will attract them due to the elements it offers. 

Modify their habitat potentials. The landscape should be flat and clear of debris. Any pet or even playground equipment should also be modified. If it’s not in use then take it down. You can also take away the areas where kids crawl in and out of little hiding spaces.

Make sure that anything that houses foods they and humans share in taste is nowhere to be found. Close things tightly, and be discerning about what you have in your compost heaps. 

Research and use the scents they hate below: Remember that it’s a temporary fix, but these items are cheap enough and easy and safe to use. 

  • White Vinegar
  • Chili Pepper
  • Garlic 

Thank you for reading!

I hope this article helps you in keeping these foxy critters away.

References

The control of fox movement by electric fencing. I.J.Patterson Culture Field Station, University of Aberdeen, Newburgh, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB4 DAA, Scotland

Filariosis in foxes in Italy A. Marconcini, M. Magi, G. Macchioni & M. Sassetti  Veterinary Research Communications volume 20, pages316–319 (1996)

Azevedo, J.F. de, 1943. On the presence of Dipetalonema dracunculoides (Cobbold, 1870) among dogs in Portugal; contribution to the study on its morphology. Anais do Instituto de Medicina Tropical, Lisboa, 1, 105–114

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment Research Communication Non-lethal defense of livestock against predators: flashing lights deter puma attacks in Chile Omar Ahrens,Cristian Bonacic,Adrian Trevel First published: 03 January 2019 https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1952Citations: 21

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