What to Do if You See a Fox in Your Yard: Step-by-Step


Red Fox Standing in Back Yard

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.

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, 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 (link to source), 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

A Fox Will be Strongly Deterred by the Surprising Sprinkler Spray

Water Sprinkler Used in Yard

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 think so, I wrote an article about the effectiveness of using motion sensor lights on coyotes.

You can view that article here (link to article) if you’d like.

The Best Motion Sensor Water Sprinkler to Deter Foxes

Foxes Underneath Deck at Home

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. Also, you won’t be able to use the sprinkler under a deck. Solar-powered sprinklers are generally a little more pricey.

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.

If you’d like, you can view that guide here (link to guide).

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:

  1. Identify what the foxes are attracted to in your yard
  2. Make sure all garbage and compost is properly sealed
  3. Install a motion sensor water sprinkler in front of the fox’s area of interest
  4. Continue to monitor and clean your yard to make sure it is not attractive to foxes or other predators

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 this (link to guide).

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.

How Foxes Make a Mess of Your Yard and Garden

Fox in 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 in Greenland (link to research) 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 Can You 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 4.9 – 31lbs (link to Wiki)

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

What Can You do to Prevent Foxes Eating your Garden?

Outside of putting down a scarecrow or animal imitation, I’d go ahead and use the sprinkler method I discussed earlier. It will spray the foxes away AND water your garden at the same time.

If you were to put 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.

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