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Every problem has a solution, but when it comes to foxes, repellents are NOT that solution. There are a number of reasons why we wouldn’t advise using the majority of them, but one of the biggest reasons is because they will often prove to be the most expensive option when you look at things over the long-term.
There are hundreds of snippets of “advice” handed down over the internet, and among the worst that we have read include:
“Use moth balls. They’ll get rid of all wild animals.”
Not only do moth balls NOT work, they’re also actually very dangerous. Usually made up of one or two toxic chemicals, the release of the toxic gases could contaminate soil and water sources, and may even poison local wildlife, pets, and even children. This is definitely the case if they are ingested.
“Soak rags in Creosote.”
To start with, in 1998, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) specified that although the benefits of using the stuff outweighed the disadvantages, in terms of pesticides and wood preservation, it should only be used in commercial properties, and not in residential ones.
If Creosote is put near plant life, it will be harmful. It doesn’t even need to touch the plant directly, as it is heated and turned into vapor with sunlight, and these vapors are distributed over local plants. If it sinks down into the soil, it can kill off plants by the roots.
It is also generally recognized that Creosote can only be used in well-ventilated areas. Wild animals, such as foxes, do not hide in open and well-ventilated areas. They live in tiny spaces that you often can’t find. Creosote-soaked rags will probably kill the fox, not repel it. Long term exposure to the stuff can cause various cancers, as well as life-threatening failure of the organs, and even short-term exposure can be dangerous. It can bring out irritation to the eyes and respiratory system, and can even cause skin problems.
“Pee in the garden.”
Okay, in some instances, pee can work, but it’s not human pee we’re talking about in terms of animal eviction fluid. There are various forms of this available on the market. The stuff that has been designed for smaller animals contain the pee of predatory animals, such as foxes, to repel raccoons, opossums, skunks, and other wild critters.
This can work for your fox if it is a female. A male fox is likely to be angered and agitated by the addition of another male’s urine scent. You would probably have better luck using the eviction fluid that has been designed for coyotes, which often contains the urine of bigger predators — timber wolves, for example.
“I use an ultrasonic deterrent.”
There are a few people that have had great success with ultrasonic-style devices, designed to send off a noise that is too high-pitched for humans to hear, but in the right frequency for wild critters to hear, such as the fox. The sudden blast of noise, usually when a sensor has been set off, frightens them off.
There are a couple of points that we would like to make about these:
1 - They can be rather expensive. They also require running costs. Solar panel designs are going to be the sensible choice, but these are often the most expensive ones to buy. Ones that run on batteries will require a constant stream of them, and regular checks to make sure they haven’t died int he device, and those that run on the mains will obviously add more of a cost to your energy bill.
2 - Some humans can actually hear the noise that these devices give off. You’ll know about it before long. There’s no doubt one of your neighbors will complain. That's if you’re not one of those people. If that's the case, the device won't last long.
3 - The repellents and deterrents will need to be used constantly in order for them to be constantly effective. If you turn the device off, trying to save a few dollars on your energy bill, there will be nothing to deter the fox. It is free to come back and make itself comfortable. It’ll pee and poo all over the place, spreading disease and creating a ghastly stench. It’ll help itself to food in your yard, and get into fights with your household pets.
“Ammonia deterrents are great.”
Ammonia is designed to hit the sense of smell, but can be just as dangerous as poison. The toxic gases have the potential cause problems with the eyes and respiratory system, and long-term exposure could also prove fatal.
Just like the other repellents and deterrents, you will need to use a constant stream of ammonia, in whatever way you have decided to distribute it. You will need to take into account the cost that will come with that, as well as the safety risks. Just like moth balls, ammonia can contaminate soil and water sources, as well as injuring or even killing other wildlife.
“Use a sprinkler. They hate water.”
If you've ever seen that one video on Facebook of the fox dancing in the sprinkler system, you’ll probably have guessed that this so-called fox deterrent doesn’t work anywhere near as well as everyone says it does. In the heat of summer, animals like foxes and raccoons love the water squirted out of the sprinkler system. It gives them a way to cool down, and they’ll also drink it. This isn't the case for all wild critters, of course, and there are some that will be frightened away by the prospect of a short, sharp burst of chilly water, but you can’t guarantee that this method will work.
Just like electronic fox repellents, there is a cost issue to think about. A motion-activated sprinkler system can cost $100. The more complex models will obviously come with a higher cost. Again, there is the running cost to bring into account here, as well as the fact that it might not even work. If you are faced with draughts in the summer, you may not be allowed to use the sprinkler systems at all.
“Citronella - gets rid of bugs and foxes!”
Citronella actually works quite efficiently as a bug repellent, but it doesn’t really work as a fox repellent. Once upon a time, this was used to fight back against cats, dogs, foxes, and a wide range of other nuisance animals. It doesn’t work against cats and dogs, and it doesn’t seem to show great success for foxes either.
Citronella candles do smell quite nice though, so you could always burn them while you're outside to keep away the bugs anyway.
Read aboutHow to get rid of fox
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How To Guide: Who should I hire? - What questions to ask, to look for, who NOT to hire.
How To Guide: do it yourself! - Advice on saving money by doing wildlife removal yourself.
Guide: How much does wildlife removal cost? - Analysis of wildlife control prices.
Animals in the attic - read about the common species.
Noises in the attic - how to identify critters by their sounds.