Whether you live in the countryside or are part of the city’s buzz, it is very likely you have seen a fox during your lifetime.
While most foxes live in rural areas, like woodlands, wetlands, or even farmland habitats, some do visit the urban landscape. It means that a simple walk in the countryside can potentially lead to a fox encounter.
However, rural foxes are pretty shy, so you cannot go too close to them. As such, you are more likely to notice some urban foxes appearing your garden or down the street.
If you are an animal lover, your first instinct may be to feed the foxes or leave food boxes. But is it ok to do that? What should a healthy diet for foxes contain?
What Do Foxes Eat: Meat And More
Foxes usually have a very diverse diet. They are expert hunters, so they love to catch birds, frogs, rabbits, or rodents. But let’s better understand the fundamentals of their diet, as well as their digestive system particularities.
Reasons Why Foxes Are Omnivores
Some people find foxes adorable, while others consider their personalities to be mischievous and therefore try to stay away. Foxes have been famous characters in childhood stories since forever due to their greedy nature. As such, these animals are very often treated as food thieves. Yet, things are not quite so in real life.
If you look into foxes’ diet, you notice that foxes eat a lot of meat. But that’s not all they consume. Zoologists explain that foxes are, in fact, omnivores. But how does this work? Well, when they cannot find enough meat to eat, foxes enjoy eating plants or berries. Due to their wildlife adaptation, they can survive even during difficult feeding periods. Some would even say that foxes can eat almost anything they can find, including carcasses.
Now, thanks to their omnivorous nature, foxes are superior to other organisms since they can survive by simply eating almost anything. Naturally, their digestive system is also adapted to their versatile diet; it can immediately digest fat, fiber, even carbohydrates, turning them into good nutrients and energy.
Foxes Digestion – The Similarities With Human Digestive System
When it comes to foxes’ digestion, the similarities with the human digestive system are even more fascinating. Considering both are mammals, it’s safe to say that the organs are the same in both cases. However, foxes have particular adaptations to make their digesting food more accessible. Here are the main stages of foxes’ digestion:
- Firstly, the animal takes the food in its mouth, where mechanical digestion starts by chewing. Enzymes in the salivary glands tear apart the food, which is essential, considering the tough meat they eat. An essential part of this step is the sharp canines that will cut off all the food;
- Secondly, the esophagus transports the food slowly into the stomach;
- Next, the digestion starts in the stomach, where both chemical and mechanical digestion occurs. Slowly, the food turns into liquid.
- Then the food is traveling, starting to the small intestine, where most of the essential nutrients are absorbed by the body;
- When the food reaches the large intestine, water is absorbed, forming the feces and waste;
- Finally, waste is excreted through the rectum.
Wild vs. Urban Foxes. What Do They Eat?
Let’s understand a little the differences between what the wild and the urban foxes eat.
Fox Diet In The Wild
Foxes are predatory animals, so they would always hunt small animals, such as rodents, birds, or rabbits. Furthermore, the ones living across the coastal areas would also eat crabs, reptiles, or fish.
When they live in the wild, most foxes will kill their prey only once or twice a week. This means that foxes would try to find more accessible and more reliable protein and energy sources, such as various insects or fruits, due to their omnivore nature.
Foxes will also eat grasses, nuts, mushrooms, even berries where they can find them. Keep in mind that these animals are opportunistic eaters; as such, they will do anything to catch whatever meal they can in order to have a nice dinner.
Urban Foxes Diet
Just like the wild foxes, the urban ones would also mostly hunt. Yet, they would do it on the streets of the cities and towns. Their prey includes pigeons, rats, or rodents.
However, most of their food comes from all the food waste humans provide.
People throw a lot of food at nearby households, restaurants, and shops. This means that foxes have plenty of meals to seek in urban areas.
Thus, with so many opportunities, it’s no surprise that urban foxes are not that afraid to live close to humans, making them great scavengers that will not feel ashamed to seek food waste in their containers.
Feeding Foxes In Your Garden: Is It Ok To Do That?
Considering foxes are those types of opportunistic animals, they would do anything they can to steal food from the area they live in. No wonder people try to keep their gardens free of foxes.
People who keep their hens, rabbits, or chickens outside should know that their animals could be at risk if they live in an area where foxes walk nearby every night.
Another aspect that should be taken into consideration is that foxes will leave all of their droppings in people’s gardens, which can be toxic for your dogs or cats. Foxes might look cute, but never forget that they carry lots of parasites.
What Type Of Food Can You Leave For Foxes?
Some would completely disagree with the idea of feeding foxes in their garden. However, if you decide to feed the foxes yourself, you can bring a lot of happiness into your life and avoid the animals scavenging the garbage.
Here are some of the things to avoid when feeding foxes:
- If you live in urban areas, you may be tempted to try and hand-feed or touch the foxes that usually come into your garden. Yet, foxes are wild animals. Therefore you should not do that. Although they live in urban areas, foxes are still inquisitive animals that might get aggressive if you get too close to them.
- Do not leave significant amounts of food in the garden. This may encourage foxes to become too confident and visit you more often than you might like;
- Never put out big amounts of food foxes can’t consume on the spot. The last thing you want is for them to start digging your neighbors’ gardens and store it for later snacks.
Foxes’ diet consists of meat protein; as such, the best types of food you can leave for them are cooked or raw meat, even dog food.
What you can do:
- If you love animals, you want to help them stay healthy and safe. Water is just as important as food. So leave a bowl of freshwater for your urban foxes;
- Try to make a feeding schedule for the foxes; this way, you can teach them to visit your garden only at certain times; moreover, if you do this, it means there will be less food left for other animals, like rats;
- Offer enough food, so the foxes will be full and will not scavenge in other bins; moreover, foxes will not be dependent on you;
- Make sure you will offer food to foxes when they need it most. For instance, winter is the ideal time to feed the foxes, as they cannot find insects or earthworms due to the frozen ground;
- Try to clean all the bowls and feeding utensils daily to avoid spreading diseases.
Questions And Answers Session
Still, have questions? Well, I have more answers for you.
Q: Do Foxes Eat Cats? Should You Worry?
A: While there is a slight chance for foxes to attack your cats, this is quite unlikely to happen. But, if you have kittens left unsupervised into the garden, they might be vulnerable to a fox attack.
However, adult cats and foxes are quite similar in size. Foxes will always prefer smaller prey, like rabbits or rats. Therefore, you should not worry about your cat getting into a fight with a fox.
Q: Do Foxes Eat Squirrels?
A: Well, they won’t reject such a feast if they are given the opportunity. Squirrels are small enough for foxes to hunt. However, the fox needs to be as fast as the squirrel to catch it on the ground or close to the trees.
While both animals are fast climbers, squirrels are no match for a fox once it’s up in the tree. So, the odds are not in the fox’s favor when it comes to catching squirrels.
Q: Do Foxes Feed Themselves With Rabbits?
A: Yes, they do. All rodents are part of a wild fox’s menu. Unlike squirrels, rabbits cannot climb into trees or hide so well to be safe from foxes. If you have guinea pigs or tiny rabbits in the garden, foxes will use any chance to attack them.
Q: Are Birds Part Of A Fox’s Diet?
A: Yes, foxes love to hunt birds, especially chickens that cannot fly. If you have an unsecured coop of chickens, you can be sure foxes will try to get in and use all of their hunting abilities to eat one or more of your chickens.
Keep in mind that this hunting habit is part of their natural lifestyle. So, when foxes find an excess of prey, they will kill everything. As such, if you find a large number of dead birds, it is clear that a fox has been in the area.
Q: Are Apples Appetizing For Foxes?
A: Foxes will also eat berries or other seasonal fruits, but these wild animals are also fond of apples.
While foxes will naturally prefer to eat much different food high in protein, they also need the vitamins and minerals in fruits.
Q: Should You Leave Chocolate For Foxes?
A: Chocolate might be toxic for the foxes, so do not leave any sweets in the garden. Most probably, sugar will not kill these wild animals, but it can harm their health.
As the urban settlements are getting closer and closer to wild habitats, there is no surprise that foxes will find any opportunity to visit your homes.
Don’t worry; it is safe for foxes to co-exist with humans. You can even leave some food and welcome foxes into your garden’s area without any fear. Enjoy the observing activity, and these creatures will bring you a lot of joy.