Urban foxes on the allotment

Posted: Wednesday 11 June 2014
by Kate Bradbury

Over the years Costas, my allotment neighbour, has befriended a male fox, who visits him daily for Rich Tea biscuits.

Fox cub

My allotment neighbour, Costas, is a nice man. A retired civil servant, he has tended the same plot for 60 years. First it was his father’s, and then his brother’s. He looks after two plots on his own, now. “But sometimes I can still smell my dad” he says.

Over the years Costas has befriended a male fox, who visits him daily for Rich Tea biscuits. “He nudges me with his nose and looks longingly into my eyes” says Costas, “and then I give him his biscuits.” What the fox can’t carry he eats straight away, and then he crams the rest into his mouth and trots off with it – perhaps to give to the female and their cubs in their den a few plots down.

Sometimes the fox visits after Costas has gone home, stopping off to pick up the biscuits that have been left out for him. He comes at around 6pm, and I’m often there watering after work. I’ve seen the fox fit five Rich Tea biscuits into his mouth in one go – all intact, nothing broken. It’s amazing to watch – he almost throws them into the air and catches them, one by one, arranging them in the perfect row between his teeth. With his mouth full he takes off down the path, past me with my watering can, past another allotment neighbour who throws stones at him…

It’s funny how one fox can inspire such different emotions among allotmenteers. “People don’t like me feeding the fox because they say he wees on their vegetables” says Costas. “But I tell them, just wash your vegetables”. There are no chickens or ducks on the allotment, no reason to hold such venom for a fox carrying biscuits in his mouth.

And yet every day the fox, who dares to befriend a human with biscuits, has to cross the path of another with stones. My plot is directly between the two, and I wonder if there’s something I can do to make the fox’s daily journey a little less painful, or at least a little more worth the pain.

Biscuits are lovely but they’re not terribly nutritious. Lots of urban foxes have sarcoptic mange, and it’s thought this may partly be to do with their unbalanced diet compared to those living in more rural areas. Peanuts are rich in essential fats and vitamins, and foxes seem to be quite partial to them. I wonder if I can encourage the fox to stop off at mine for some peanuts on the way to collecting his biscuits? Perhaps the full belly and extra vitamins will help him run faster from those who don’t like him.

Many thanks to Mike Snelle / The Wildlife Trusts for kind permission to use their beautiful image of a fox cub.

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Talkback: Urban foxes on the allotment
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oldchippy 13/06/2014 at 12:06

Foxes are welcome visitor's to my garden but the dogs run after them,but the fox is to quick and always get away.I put food for them in the front of the house so the dog don't get a look in.

fidgetbones 13/06/2014 at 14:05

We feed the fox family on Bakers meaty meals, a soft meaty biscuit, and also soft tinned dog food. There is usually one cub who is braver than the others . This is one who would take food from my hand, and come to call from May until August when he disappeared.


SwissSue 14/06/2014 at 07:48

Super video(s) fidget, love his glowing eyes!

Lyn 14/06/2014 at 13:58

I hate them ever since one went through all my rare breed chickens, mums and babies. Not to eat, just to massacre.

susie61 14/06/2014 at 14:15

We had the same problem as you Lyn. The fox just left our chickens in the garden. If they needed them for food I could understand it but is it sport with them. My father used to feed them in his town garden but is this encouraging them into towns and is this wise? Very emotive issue

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