What to Do if You See a Fox in Your Yard: Step-by-Step
Seeing foxes in your yard or garden can be an odd sight, especially if you’ve never seen them before.
While they are very playful creatures, foxes can cause some serious trouble to your property.
If you see a fox in your yard, use several motion-activated water sprinklers and place them in fox prone areas such as under a deck or near a garden.
The sprinkler will spray the fox every time it enters the area, which will deter the animal.
Purchasing a motion-activated sprinkler system is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep foxes off of your property.
While it is effective, there are a few things you need to do in order to make sure the sprinkler is as effective as possible – let’s talk about that below!
Why a Motion Sensor Water Sprinkler will Deter Foxes
Think about this – if every time that you walk up to the refrigerator to grab your lunch, you got sprayed by a hard blast of cold water, would you keep going up and trying to grab your lunch?
More than likely, no.
You’d look around and find out what the heck was spraying you and how to get rid of it before getting soaked and going back in.
Luckily as humans, we’re capable of complex thought and can understand the cause of something quite easily and usually put a stop to it.
While it’s pretty abundant that animals are intelligent creatures, it’s also abundantly clear than animals are not even close to the same level of thinking as us.
As humans, we make complex decisions every day with thoughts about the distant future and can understand the consequences of our decisions across several different scenarios.
Wild animals, however, aren’t on that same level of thinking.
Let’s say that instead of getting sprayed by water inside of a warm, cozy room when you try to grab your lunch – you’re actually out in the woods trying to gather firewood or hiking.
If you were in an area of the woods and all of a sudden get sprayed, your most likely response is going to be that you’ll dash away from whatever just sprayed you because you’re in an unfamiliar environment.
While we as humans are capable of complex thought, we still come back to our natural instincts of survival when we’re in unfamiliar territory.
Going to the refrigerator to grab your lunch is more than likely taking place in a safe environment. If you get sprayed by water there, you probably won’t be too afraid.
If that were to happen in the woods where so many different things could happen, your natural instincts would set in, and you would be focused on one thing: survival
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A Fox Will be Strongly Deterred by the Surprising Sprinkler Spray
So, how does this relate back to motion sensor water sprinklers and foxes in your yard?
The main difference between a human’s reaction to getting sprayed by a sudden, unknown blast of water and a fox’s response is that the primary purpose of a fox is to stay alive in the wild and survive.
By nature, foxes are skittish, playful, and intelligent creatures. Their main goal, just like many other animals in the wild, is to eat food, mate, and avoid predators.
Naturally, if a fox sees that you have a garden filled with food or a porch with a nice cozy overhang, the fox will more than likely try to scope out the area.
This is where the motion sensor water sprinkler comes into play.
As soon as the fox comes up to any area on your property, it will get blasted by a high-pressure spray from your water sprinkler.
Quickly, the animal will learn that getting close to your yard means getting sprayed by an unknown source of water.
The best part about using a water sprinkler as a deterrent? It will water your lawn and garden in the process, AND it’s safe for the environment.
Some would say that motion sensor lights would be enough of a deterrent, but I disagree, I think the extra step of using a sprinkler goes a long way in deterring the animals long term.
If you’d like to read up more on why, I wrote an article about the effectiveness of using motion sensor lights on coyotes that is imperative in dealing with foxes as well.
The Best Motion Sensor Water Sprinkler to Deter Foxes
The most likely places that foxes will go in your yard are under your deck and in your garden.
They’ll use your deck overhang as a den (home) and your garden as a food source.
That makes these the best places to install your water sprinklers.
When you’re looking for a motion sensor water sprinkler, you need to keep a few things in mind.
First, you want something that sprays at least up to 50 feet in diameter. This will make sure that that fox will get sprayed as it runs away too.
You’re also going to want a sprinkler that doesn’t waste energy when it’s not active. Personally, I would prefer a battery-operated sprinkler because they’re the most mobile and easiest to deal with.
You don’t want to get a solar-powered motion sensor sprinkler because they’re dependent on the sun for energy, more pricey and can’t be used under a deck (since it needs the sun’s light).
Lastly, look out for sprinklers that try not to waste too much water upon activation. This usually comes from more of how well the motion sensor is designed and when the sensor stops detecting the fox.
I wrote a guide about some of my favorite natural pest repellents to which I’ve included my ideal motion sensor water sprinkler – a must read, if you ask me.
The motion sensor sprinkler in that guide meets the criteria above and will most likely last quite some time if treated right. I highly recommend checking it out.
Here’s What to Do Once You See a Fox in Your Yard
So chances are that if you’re reading this, you’ve more than likely spotted a fox or two in your yard, If that’s the case, here are the steps you’re going to want to take:
- Identify what the foxes are attracted to in your yard
- Make sure all garbage and compost is properly sealed
- Install a motion sensor water sprinkler in front of the fox’s area of interest
- Continue to monitor and clean your yard to make sure it is not attractive to foxes or other predators
- Check out our article on the scents foxes hate, and use them to deter foxes!
While that’s the simple version, here are those steps in a little more depth.
1. Identify what the foxes are attracted to in your yard
I touched on this a little bit earlier, but the main thing you’re going to want to make sure of here is that your yard is as unattractive to wildlife as possible.
No, this doesn’t mean making your yard look ugly; in fact, if anything, your yard will look very polished if there are fewer fox attractants around.
If you have an overhang on your deck, foxes might be attracted to that. If you have a garden, they’ll be searching for food by your bins.
If you compost or dump any table scraps on your lawn, foxes will more than likely are searching near there.
If you’re not sure, look for signs disruption near those areas, such as broken branches/plants and animal droppings.
Figure out just WHAT the foxes are going after, then we can take steps to stop it.
2. Make sure all garbage and compost is properly sealed
While this would fit into the first list item pretty easily, I wanted to emphasize the importance of this item.
The trash is where many individuals end up dumping their leftover scraps and food.
That organic material then begins to decompose into the garbage can, causing a fermentation like order to reek inside the can.
In other words, garbage has a powerful smell that will definitely attract foxes to your property.
I’ve had squirrels chew holes in my garbage cans before, which has led to an absolutely putrid-smelling back yard at times.
The smell is super likely to draw in other wildlife for a chance at some easy food.
Just make sure that all of your bins are properly sealed, and you shouldn’t have a huge issue with wildlife attempting to get at it.
3. Install a motion sensor water sprinkler in front of the fox’s area of interest
We just covered this pretty thoroughly.
If you’re having an issue with foxes near your home, a motion sensor water sprinkler will do the trick.
After first identifying where the foxes are attempting to get at on your property and sealing all garbage bins, take your motion sensor water sprinkler and hook it up in front of the area where foxes have been going on your land.
The blast of water will spray the foxes and deter them from coming back to that area. Plus, it’s way better for the environment than some other methods.
4. Continue to monitor and clean your yard to make sure it is not attractive to foxes or other predators
After completing step three, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t see any more signs of foxes around your property.
One of my favorite ways to see if something is actually working is to place a battery-operated trail camera around the area to see the method in action.
Along with including the motion sensor sprinkler in the guide that I was talking about earlier, I also added a review of a fantastic trail camera that is extremely useful in situations like this.
You can read that guide by clicking here!
It’s pretty great to see this stuff in action and one of the most straightforward ways to see if your method is working effectively.
Back to the main point – after you’ve executed the above steps, just continue to make sure your yard is wildlife proof.
That means no stray food lying around, keeping your pets indoors, sealing your trash cans, and keeping grass to a low height.
Additionally, sealing any gaps under your house might be a great idea, but using a sprinkler is much cheaper and less of a time commitment.
It is why I think a sprinkler is a great way to prevent foxes from becoming too comfortable at your property.
Need a little more help than what these tips provide? Give a ring to our nationwide network of pest and wildlife control professionals. We’ll connect you to local professional in your area, in seconds. If you do need an exterminator to help pest-proof your home, working with our partner network helps support pestpointers.com. Thanks bunches!
How Foxes Make a Mess of Your Yard and Garden
So we now know how to get rid of them, but it’s vital to understand why further about the different ways that foxes can approach your property.
While foxes are generally playful creatures, they are still wild animals that can potentially make a mess of your home.
The problems that a fox can often cause ends up being painfully obvious when they happen.
Foxes Can Raid Both Garbage and Compost Containers to Make a Mess
One of the main things that a fox will go ahead and search through is your garbage and compost containers.
If you have a garden, expect them to go through there first, as the garden is a little bit easier of a spot for them to access.
However, if you don’t have a garden (and even if you do), foxes will more than likely go and rummage through your garbage bins and even your compost, making a huge mess of things.
While many different species of foxes can behave in different ways, foxes generally still hunt and forage for food in similar ways.
Regardless of the species, if a fox smells food, it’s still going to attempt to search out where the source is coming from.
Foxes are extremely curious and will raid your garbage and compost if they catch a whiff of the inside container.
In fact, a study assessing the diet of Arctic Foxes by Greenland found that a high percentage of a fox’s diet can come from human food waste and nonfood garbage.
What Can You do to Prevent Foxes From Raiding your Garbage?
The most important thing you can do to stop foxes from raiding your garbage or compost is to make sure that your containers are properly sealed and aren’t leaking any scents.
This will help to prevent the foxes from being able to detect the scent at all and will likely keep them away.
If you’re finding that the foxes are still trying to get at your containers, then placing a motion sensor water sprinkler could help keep them away as well.
Foxes May Go After Small Animals Like Rabbits, Hamsters or Small Cats
While I’m trying not to lump every species of a fox into one characteristic, the main types of foxes in North America are the Red Fox and Gray Fox.
Both of these species of foxes are omnivores and usually stick to smaller animals such as field insects, mice, bunnies, or even birds if they can catch them.
If you have any small pets that you leave outside unattended and you have a fox around, think twice about leaving them outside.
Foxes are swift animals and are more than likely faster than any domesticated pet you may own. They’re wild animals that survive on tracking down other animals for food.
The problem can be exacerbated if the foxes have taken up shelter underneath your deck, which is why it’s essential to make sure that you have all cracks and openings sealed underneath your house.
What you Can do to Prevent Foxes From Going After your Pets
In order to keep your pets safe from foxes, it is important to do a few things. First, you’ll want to keep your pets inside as often as you can.
Never leave your pets unattended outdoors, especially if they’re small. My dog Vito is roughly 130lbs extremely lean and fit, whereas the average weight of a fox can range between 5 – 31lbs.
We leave Vito outside during the day and bring him inside during the night. Vito’s breed, a cane corse, is historically known to be a farm dog.
Any animal such as a fox or of similar size wouldn’t dare attempt to go up to him.
By the way, we have a ton of open land, and Vito sticks around the house during the day, he’s always attended whenever he gets close to the woods.
If you have a smaller animal, not just a dog, just make sure you bring them inside during the night and possibly even for most of the day, depending on your specific situation.
Additionally, don’t leave any animal food outside for long periods of time, as this can attract foxes and other predators to your area.
Use your best judgment for your specific situation, but if you see any sort of fox activity around (and other predators), it’s best to be cautious rather than optimistic.
Lastly, remember to potentially seal up or simply monitor the activity under your deck, as it makes an excellent den for foxes and other wildlife alike.
Foxes Can Eat the Food in Your Garden
Foxes can and will eat the food in your garden if there is nothing out there to stop them.
Really, can you blame them? I’d certainly do it if I was a fox (I’m not, but that’d be kinda cool if I was and was writing this as a fox).
This one is pretty simple. If you have an open garden with no fence or barries, foxes will simply go ahead and snack on any good treats you have growing in your garden
Prevent Foxes Eating your Garden
Outside of putting down a scarecrow or animal imitation, or using the sprinkler in this case, I’d go ahead and try adding noise to the area to scare foxes away.
We have an article that discusses just which noises scare foxes, and how to use them to keep them away – and it works like a charm!
Other ways include putting up a fence! You probably wouldn’t see fantastic results because a fox would more than likely be able to clear the fence with a well-positioned jump.
More than anything, all of this content revolves around being familiar with your own property and doing what’s best for YOU in your specific situation.
And if you’re really unsure why you’re having foxes in the first place, make sure to check out 9 specific things that may be attracting foxes to your yard!
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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