PDA

View Full Version : What does a fox hole look like? Are small dogs in danger?



Bicoastal
Jan. 8, 2013, 11:23 AM
There is a hole near the base of a shed six strides from my door. A couple days prior to seeing this den, I saw a fox (Friday Fox) reluctant to leave the immediate area and a recently dug spot. It was just a bunch of scratches in a concentrated spot. I thought maybe I interrupted breakfast. Now those scratches have grown into a…? I’m not sticking my head or hand down there to look! :eek:

Do I need to be concerned about my dogs? Diseases or parasites? How big is the hole of a fox’s den? What are foxes doing this time of year? There is a creek behind the house, mice, birds; the backyard has some award or certification as a backyard habitat.

My big suburban neighborhood has at least two foxes. I’ve seen one limping down the sidewalk (left hind held up and dangling) in broad daylight with pedestrian and car traffic during after work commute. I saw "Friday Fox" in my backyard after my dog startled it. I fear the fox and my 18lb pup were almost nose to nose before I walked around the corner of the shed. The fox silently trotted away then stopped, faced us, and stood there. It wasn’t moving any further away. I reverted to Cali brain where coyotes eat small dogs and got outta there like a scaredy cat.

Anybody wanna mail me a game cam :lol: to see what's going on?

Equibrit
Jan. 8, 2013, 02:12 PM
http://www.terrierman.com/lifehabitatRedFox.htm

Bicoastal
Jan. 9, 2013, 08:06 AM
http://www.terrierman.com/lifehabitatRedFox.htm

Thanks, Equibrit. So Red Fox are digging dens and courting or mating at this time of year. From the verbal description, this is a fox den. Dirt is sprayed out of the entrance, not patted down.

In a google image search, it is hard to get a sense of scale on the size of fox holes. I'll try to take a picture. Is the den inhabited during daylight or nighttime? I don't want to set a coke can next to the hole (for scale), get on my knees, aim the camera, and have a frantic fox leap out at me.

Though I'm super curious, I've been avoiding the immediate den area as best I can.

wateryglen
Jan. 9, 2013, 11:59 AM
Actually, I doubt very seriously it IS a foxhole. It's most likely ground hog. THEY prefer digging holes (with LOTS of dirt piled around it) near buildings. Classic behavior. Foxes don't like to call attention to their dens. The other species is skunk this time of year. Skunks will often try to hide their openings by filling in the hole with grass/hay, leaves, sticks/camoflage. They take over groundhog dens too to nap in winter. Most groundhog dens have multiple holes so look around. You This time of year, both are looking for a nice deep hole to winter over in. Groundhogs will often hibernate down there. All that dirt is clearly from them. Foxes don't dig holes; they take over others already dug. They'll improve them. But this time of year; foxes aren't denning up. Not until later when they have a litter. They don't "live" in dens; they sleep outside.
Your neighborhood fox sounds habituated to people/pets and is not a danger to any. The only risk your small dog has is if he goes down any dug hole it could collapse on him. Foxes don't eat dogs/cats. Try filling the hole in. If it's redug quickly then it's definetly groundhog.
Do a search on groundhogs, foxes, dens on this & other boards and you'll see. I have a LOT of experience w/the groundhog/skunk/shed hole scenarios. I got rid of them finally by harassing them to death. The skunk was another story.
Good luck.

wateryglen
Jan. 9, 2013, 12:13 PM
RE: the nice article Equibrit shared with us.
I absolutely disagree with a few things. My groundhogs never "patted down" the entrances or dirt piles. Always sprayed dirt all over the place. And the breeding/courting schedule should be adjusted for what part of the country you are in. Huge dens/long tunnels are other species specialties. A groundhog hole can have many entrances & be 30 ft long. They like yards because their favorite food is clover. and tomato plants/ vegetables....;)

Bacardi1
Jan. 9, 2013, 07:46 PM
Actually, I doubt very seriously it IS a foxhole. It's most likely ground hog. THEY prefer digging holes (with LOTS of dirt piled around it) near buildings. Classic behavior. Foxes don't like to call attention to their dens. The other species is skunk this time of year. Skunks will often try to hide their openings by filling in the hole with grass/hay, leaves, sticks/camoflage. They take over groundhog dens too to nap in winter. Most groundhog dens have multiple holes so look around. You This time of year, both are looking for a nice deep hole to winter over in. Groundhogs will often hibernate down there. All that dirt is clearly from them. Foxes don't dig holes; they take over others already dug. They'll improve them. But this time of year; foxes aren't denning up. Not until later when they have a litter. They don't "live" in dens; they sleep outside.
Your neighborhood fox sounds habituated to people/pets and is not a danger to any. The only risk your small dog has is if he goes down any dug hole it could collapse on him. Foxes don't eat dogs/cats. Try filling the hole in. If it's redug quickly then it's definetly groundhog.
Do a search on groundhogs, foxes, dens on this & other boards and you'll see. I have a LOT of experience w/the groundhog/skunk/shed hole scenarios. I got rid of them finally by harassing them to death. The skunk was another story.
Good luck.

A big DITTO here. Not a fox; more likely a groundhog or skunk. I don't know where the OP is located, but this time of year around here in VA, my vote would be for skunk, as groundhogs aren't normally building new dens this early into the winter. But it's prime time for skunk.

Oh, & while I'm not up on whether or not a fox will grapple with a small dog (I'm kind of thinking a terrier would be safe, as opposed to a Pug, Maltese, etc., etc.), I have personally seen one run down a cat.

wendy
Jan. 10, 2013, 01:57 PM
personally, I'd much rather have a fox in the backyard than a groundhog (dig giant holes, eat the garden) or a skunk (stinky, rabies risk). Foxes mostly eat vermin, and are really cool to watch. Our fox used to "play" with the dogs- would lure them out to chase him, and then he'd fool them and vanish, and while they ran frantically around looking for him he'd re-appear and bark, then vanish.
They can carry mange, and occasionally eat someone's cat.

Bacardi1
Jan. 10, 2013, 02:12 PM
They can carry mange. . . . . .

Definitely. At least once every couple of years we catch sight of red fox with mange. One time a number of years ago we had one around here that was completely buck naked except for some hair on its face & a tuft at the tip of its tail. Sad.

I did contact Fish & Game to see if there was anything we could do, but the response was "nada".

candyappy
Jan. 10, 2013, 02:32 PM
Sounds like a groundhog. If you have access to a cat litter box you can put the " cat deposits" down the hole and they will move on. We have a horrible problem with them here and the holes are just the right size for a horse foot to go into and very deep. I have filled in so many over the last 2 years and I think they have finally moved on. If they have one hole look for several more.

Foxes got a bunch of my chickens once but I would think your dog would be safe, especially if he was wanting to chase it . My dogs keep every sign of wildlife away because to them everything is an intruder to be chased off.

Bicoastal
Jan. 10, 2013, 03:32 PM
Saw plenty of groundhogs and their holes in MD, always in a field. This hole faces woods: specifically a steep slope to a creek with houses on the other side of the creek. Currently I am in northern VA urban sprawl.

I saw the fox leaving the exact spot with fresh scratch/dig marks. I was excited about a fox den -except for parasites- though scared the fox picked such a busy home (neighbor's house with two kids). :sadsmile: Darn!

Neighbor's cat poops in my shrubbery less than 4 or 5 strides from the hole. I have encouraged my dogs (18lb & 8lb) to pee around to deter raccoons. Hasn't worked.

Ugh I hope it isn't a skunk though it sounds likely. My old man Joey has had more than one run in with a skunk.

Bacardi1
Jan. 10, 2013, 03:54 PM
Frankly, it really could be any of the three. If it's a skunk though, you'll most likely smell it. They do leave a bit of their scent around where they're denning, which you wouldn't miss. Unlike other critters, skunk don't worry much about attracting predators, since the only predators they really have are owls & automobiles.

Outfxed
Jan. 10, 2013, 08:08 PM
A couple of years ago, we had a vixen move her kits into a hole a groundhog had dug underneath our garden shed, which is literally about 30 ft. from our back deck. She had 5 kits and was very unconcerned with our three dogs living that closely. The kits used to bark at us at night when we would walk the dogs out to the pen to do their thing. It was also very cool to listen to them playing and mock fighting with each other. I have some great photos of some of the kits. They stayed there until weaned and then we would see the juveniles out hunting on their own quite often. Loved it!

Bicoastal
Jan. 11, 2013, 01:19 PM
I have some great photos of some of the kits.

You know the COTH Commandments! You cannot mention great photos without posting said great photos. :yes:

Desert Topaz
Jan. 11, 2013, 01:37 PM
You know the COTH Commandments! You cannot mention great photos without posting said great photos. :yes:
This wasn't directed at me, but I have quite a few fox pictures. I had a family not far from the north side of my house one spring and now I've got a couple that have dug out their home on the side/under my arena (I'm less than thrilled about that.) I even have a pic of one pooping :D

Fox pics (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151028528516826.473568.669636825&type=1&l=798226090f)

Beverley
Jan. 11, 2013, 02:37 PM
I did contact Fish & Game to see if there was anything we could do, but the response was "nada".

Actually, not true. I had 'resident' foxes where I kept my horses in VA and when I viewed mange cropping up, got Ivermeck from my vets. Treatment of two-tenths of a cc, two weeks apart does the trick. One injects a chicken neck or hot dog with the meds using a small syringe.

The trick, of course, is having a 'feeding spot' you know the fox will be checking out. In my case, our agreed upon location was in a hedgerow along the fence line near the barn. And of course, you don't want to feed foxes or any wildlife regularly, it does them a great disservice. But by leaving bits there sporadically, I could pretty much count on him taking the meds when needed.

One year, a litter of cubs was pretty mangy- sadly though they became roadkill stats rather than succumbing to exposure (the mange doesn't kill them but the lack of protective hair does).

Reinfection is always likely, since once the parasite is there, it is pretty much resident in the dens.

Beverley
Jan. 11, 2013, 02:44 PM
Answer to OP's second question- no, generally speaking, foxes won't mess with dogs of any size. Or cats, either. They'd much rather just have the dog or cat food! Or your chickens.

Coyotes are another matter, however, dogs, cats, pet rabbits, all at risk.

gumtree
Jan. 11, 2013, 06:18 PM
Foxes are opportunist when it comes to looking for homes. They have no problem kicking out a resident groundhog and “gentrifying” the neighborhood.
As to dogs have never been worried about them picking up anything and bringing it home. We did have to dig out a Jack Russell a time or to. PIA

Outfxed
Jan. 11, 2013, 06:47 PM
You know the COTH Commandments! You cannot mention great photos without posting said great photos. :yes:

http://i1322.photobucket.com/albums/u568/outfxed/foxkit1.jpg
One of the five

http://i1322.photobucket.com/albums/u568/outfxed/IMG_0469.jpg
Perspective of shed to house from deck

http://i1322.photobucket.com/albums/u568/outfxed/foxkit2.jpg
There are two here. One is in the shadow on the left, sneaking back underneath the shed

jetjocky
Jan. 12, 2013, 03:45 PM
Definitely. At least once every couple of years we catch sight of red fox with mange. One time a number of years ago we had one around here that was completely buck naked except for some hair on its face & a tuft at the tip of its tail. Sad.

I did contact Fish & Game to see if there was anything we could do, but the response was "nada".

Actually, you can set out ivermectin in raw hamburger and that will take care of mange. We had a mangy fox in our neighborhood a couple of years ago and a tube of ivermec in about six meatballs made a huge difference. Mange can kill a fox otherwise.

poniesinthenight
Jan. 12, 2013, 04:14 PM
Thanks for the link Equibrit, brought back very fond memories.

wendy
Jan. 16, 2013, 10:35 AM
Actually, you can set out ivermectin in raw hamburger and that will take care of mange. We had a mangy fox in our neighborhood a couple of years ago and a tube of ivermec in about six meatballs made a huge difference. Mange can kill a fox otherwise.

I have done this too. It works really well.
I now put out baits every eight weeks to keep the foxes clear of mange- they managed to transmit it to my dogs once, who then had to be treated, so I figure "treat the source" is the better option.


Foxes have a sort of rank smell, you should be able to tell if one is living in your hole. They also like to leave their small black poops in prominent locations- I guess it's a territory marker?

bathsheba8542
Jan. 16, 2013, 12:02 PM
I've also dosed with Ivermectin (picked up and inexpensive at local feed store) and inject raw eggs through the shell. The fox love them! I place them around the farm and they disappear very quickly. Also less chance that my dog will go after eggs than hotdogs, etc.

pezk
Jan. 16, 2013, 05:43 PM
Have you ever had a dog with cuterabra(not sure of the sp)? It's gross. The dog sticks it's nose into a rabbit hole and bot eggs(a specific kind of bot fly that lays it's eggs on vegetation outside of rabbit holes) stick to the dogs snout and the dog ingests them. Since the dog is not the true host these eggs hatch and migrate to the dog's skin and form larvae and grow and then sometimes these white worms erupt or grub like creatures grow in the dogs skin. Totally gross. Just thought you all should know. Don' know if other canines can get them too.

Beverley
Jan. 16, 2013, 08:11 PM
I've also dosed with Ivermectin (picked up and inexpensive at local feed store) and inject raw eggs through the shell. The fox love them! I place them around the farm and they disappear very quickly. Also less chance that my dog will go after eggs than hotdogs, etc.

That's a great idea- they do love eggs. And golf balls, at least the ones that live along the fairway of our nearby golf course are fond of swiping them!

Bicoastal
Jan. 23, 2013, 10:32 AM
I could have lived without knowing maggots may erupt from my dogs' skin! Ewww!

So much fox activity. Monday night after agility class I saw one trotting down the sidewalk around 11/11:30pm. The Monday before I saw one flying across four lanes of Rt. 7 at the exit ramp to 395. It looked like it was racing into 6-8 lanes of highway traffic but I tell myself it knew exactly what it was going.

The hole appears covered with leaves and debris; a little less covered some days than others so maybe someone is stopping by once in a while. My dogs are eager to sniff around there but I don't let them.