Foxes pose a real danger to rabbits, guinea pigs, and other outdoor animals. Learn how to set up fox proof rabbit hutches and predator-proof your garden.
Rabbit Hutches and Your Garden
Have you seen foxes in your garden? Do you worry about the safety of your outdoor rabbits or guinea pigs? You should. Fortunately, although no rabbit hutch is completely fox proof, there are ways you can protect your pets from predators. And if you want to know how to consistently keep your pets safe from predators, keep foxes away from your rabbit hutch, or how to deter foxes from entering your garden altogether, we can help.
The Danger of Foxes
Foxes are a common sight in urban and suburban neighbourhoods, and rabbits are one of their favourite foods. Physical attack isn’t the only danger foxes pose to small animals. Both rabbits and guinea pigs can actually die of fright. The mere sight or smell of a predator can be enough.
Fox-Proof Rabbit Hutches
Foxes are intelligent and determined. If there’s a way into your outdoor pet enclosure, they will make sure find it.
But a large and heavy enclosure can go a long way toward protecting your pet.
Rabbit hutches that have a higher chance of keeping your pets safe have a few things in common:
- A solid raised design
- Hiding places
- Secure top and door closures
- Anti-dig and anti-chew measures
Let’s unpack these in detail.
Raised home solid construction
Although foxes can jump and climb, a raised enclosure will hinder access your pets. Choose a hutch with solid floors, a sturdy roof, chew-proof wire, and at least one compartment that’s enclosed on all sides, with an entrance only your pet can access.
A place to hide
A hiding place can be a nest box, a closed-off area of the enclosure, or even a snuggle tunnel. A hiding place isn’t just for comfort. It can also keep your rabbits out of sight of predators. A hiding place is an essential feature of fox-proof rabbit hutches, so you need to make sure your enclosure has one.
Batten down the hatches
There are several kinds of fasteners that you can use to fox proof your rabbit hutches and run:
- Barrel or Brenton bolt
- Hasp and staple with a padlock
- Chain or cable with a padlock
If your hutch has a top that raises up, secure it with a cable and/or padlock. Also, inspect your hutch for gaps through which a predator might enter. A determined fox can push itself through surprisingly small spaces.
Anti-digging measures can deter foxes from your hutch or run, and also keep your rabbits safe. Here are a few tips.
- Situate your hutch on hard ground or even concrete
- Sink wire mesh or corrugated metal 50-60 centimetres into the ground around the perimeter of your hutch
- Alternately, secure a “skirt” of mesh along the surface around the perimeter
Foxes can and will chew through the weak wire. So you need to get high-quality, fox-proof wire to use around your run. Look for:
- Strong, welded mesh
- 14 gauge (2 millimetres) or stronger
- The PVC coating is an option
Whichever wire you choose, peg it securely to the ground around your run or even sink it down below the surface.
How to Keep Foxes Away From Your Rabbit Hutch
There are different ways to discourage foxes from entering entire sections of your garden.
Fence off a no-foxes zone
If you have a free afternoon and some basic tools, you can build a predator-proof enclosure around your rabbit hutch.
The main things you’ll need to get are fence posts and two- to three-centimetre welded mesh. You can find complete instructions here.
The urine of an adult man can be a powerful fox deterrent. But you have to get the process right. The below video explains.
Ammonia can make a fox believe that another fox has already claimed your garden.
Citronella is the top ingredient of some commercial fox repellents. It works by confusing the fox’s “scent map.”
Hanging balls of human hair, playing a radio, and putting up mirrors are easy ways to fool a fox into thinking your garden is occupied.
How to Deter Foxes from Entering Your Garden
A predator-free zone is helpful, and a secure hutch is a must. But it’s easy to stop problems before they begin by keeping foxes out of your garden altogether.
Foxes don’t come into the garden for fun. Well, occasionally they might.
Most of the time, though, they’re after something. Attractants generally involve food, water, or shelter.
So take care to remove temptations like:
- Pet or bird food
- Garden beds and open soil
- Buried animal remains
- Overgrown plants and bushes
- Objects that can provide shelter
If you want to keep foxes out of your garden, find their point of entry and seal it off. Look hard. An adult fox can squeeze through a hole as small as ten centimetres (four inches) in diameter!
Inspect the perimeter of your garden for signs of digging. Check for gaps in the fencing. Promptly seal up gaps and holes.
Also remove access to any possible sheltering places, such as beneath your garden shed. But remember that it’s both cruel and illegal to knowingly wall up a live fox.
Rather, if you think you’ve found a fox den on your property, soak straw or rags in one of the deterrent substances discussed above. Use these to loosely block any entrances or exits. The foxes will remove the blockages. Replace them and continue to do so until the blockages have remained for a minimum of two days.
Motion-activated fox deterrents rely on loud or ultrasonic noises, flashing lights, and even sprays of water. Their effectiveness varies. Be aware, though, that many of these devices may scare your small pets or cause them pain.
Safe Pets, Happy Pets
Our pets rely on us to keep them safe. As human civilization expands, wildlife like foxes will become a more visible part of it. Predator-proofing takes a bit of work. But in the end, aren’t our pets worth it?