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Urban foxes?
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FionaLeaper


Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2012
Post: #1
20-02-2012 11:52 AM

Hi all,

I work for a television production company called Windfall Films and we are making a new documentary about urban foxes.

We are currently looking for dens of foxes or fox families which we might be able to study and film, and I was wondering if anyone regularly sees foxes or has a fox den near them?

If you know of any foxes in your area or have any fox related stories, it would be great to hear from you! Please feel free to email me on fiona@windfallfilms.com or call me on 0207 251 7654.

Many thanks!
Fiona

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Sherwood


Posts: 1,351
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
20-02-2012 12:11 PM

There are urban foxes everywhere.

There are some in the allotments behind my house. But I do not have a key to allow you access.

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shimmysister


Posts: 125
Joined: Aug 2011
Post: #3
20-02-2012 09:18 PM

there are lots of them every night at Austin Close!

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Contrary Mary


Posts: 124
Joined: Oct 2008
Post: #4
20-02-2012 11:10 PM

Pretty sure there's a den somewhere around the top of Taymount Rise - possibly the roundabout - or in the scrub/wood areas around the back of Queen's Garth/Queen's Court (Dorrell Estate) Have heard mating calls every year I've been in that area, and also seen juvenile cubs, occasionally in pairs.

The roundabout is private property - it belongs to the "Dulwich Estate Ltd", according to the notice on the pathway into it, which basically means the management committee of Grassmount (the cul-de-sac street at the top near the roundabout). I guess you'd need to contact them for permission to film.

The Dorrell Estate was Council, but now seems to be London and Quadrant Housing Association.

Good Luck. I've always remembered the Wildlife on One about urban foxes, which introduced me to The Kinks, via a scene of a fox sunbathing on a flat pitch roof, with a backing track of "Lazy Bones"... :-)

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Contrary Mary


Posts: 124
Joined: Oct 2008
Post: #5
21-02-2012 12:16 AM

Whoops! Quick Google, out of curiousity, reveals The Kinks track in that doc ='d Waterloo Sunset. Don't know who did the version of "Lazy Bones" it used, but the two seemed to fuse in my 8-ish year old head! Blush

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derbybill


Posts: 122
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #6
21-02-2012 12:46 PM

Foxes are everwhere in these parts if you are out after dark. I have had them walking along with me on the pavement!
I have had cute fox cubs frolicking in my back garden (aaaaaahh..), foxes sunbathing on the shed roof and a dead one with really beautiful fur that I had to dispose of in the bin. Also an injured one that crawled under my car and eventually the RSPCA came and managed to catch it and take it away.
Best places to look for foxes are in undisturbed ends of back gardens and other bits of land, and of course the railway embankments are ideal sites for foxes to breed.
Urban foxes are always looking for food, much harder since the introduction of wheely bins, and they will eat frogs, fish, small pets and even worms, and chickens if there's any about. However most are forced to eat junk food: burgers, chicken, chips, pizza that gets chucked on the ground, so that's why they are very unhealthy and live only for 2 years or so. They also suffer badly from mange, which appears to destroy their fur.

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Tinkerbell


Posts: 356
Joined: Dec 2007
Post: #7
21-02-2012 03:00 PM

They're not just sunbathing. I had one 'warming up' on the roof of my car one evening, when temperatures were lower a few weeks ago. I guess his view was 'if the cats can do it, so can I'. So he just sat there and watched the world go by. Urban indeed.

This post was last modified: 21-02-2012 03:01 PM by Tinkerbell.

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shzl400


Posts: 729
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #8
21-02-2012 07:15 PM

We have two regulars in our garden - our neighbours feed them (which is the subject of a whole different thread - if you want to take issue with that, go to the other thread) - and give them worming tablets and anti-mange treatment!

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152047


Posts: 128
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #9
21-02-2012 11:16 PM

At the risk of offending some can I suggest that it might be more original to have a film about urban foxes that doesn't follow the cliched route of "ah aren't they sweet".

Personally, I struggle to understand the difference in our attitude to rats and out attitude to foxes. The former is public enemy number one and the latter a national treasure. In my view both species should be tolerated in manageable numbers but not encouraged.

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Londondrz


Posts: 1,538
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #10
22-02-2012 11:44 AM

152047 imagine how many rats there would be without foxes.

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lacb


Posts: 623
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #11
22-02-2012 12:14 PM

Quote:
imagine how many rats there would be without foxes.


I felt inclined to agree with this but this then led me to wonder how many rats foxes eat in their diet. This led me to this confirmation: Urban Foxes Diet

It is also a rather excellent site IMO which looks very pertinent for this thread.

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152047


Posts: 128
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #12
22-02-2012 02:41 PM

[imagine how many rats there would be without foxes?]

Well, good question. But, have you ever seen a fox eating a rat? Have you ever seen a fox chasing a rat? Have you ever found the remains of rat that has been eaten by a fox?

I would like to see a scientific study on the subject before making any judgement as to the extent that foxes control the rat population.

My point is that foxes are, in the absence of pre-conditioned and sentimental bias, no more cuddly than rats and I don't think we have moved on from a mind set that was created by the anti-fox hunting lobby.

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lacb


Posts: 623
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #13
22-02-2012 03:01 PM

152047, the point of my reply was that I had stopped myself from making what may have been an emotive response and attempted to get an informed answer.

I have seen many foxes both in town and country. I have never seen one actually eat an animal - in the country they are generally shy, in town they are mostly nocturnal. So I wouldn't make any assumptions on that basis about what they eat.

Did you follow the link? It, apparently on the basis of referenced scientific study, suggests that London foxes do indeed eat rats, pigeons and other animals. I was actually surprised at how little of the urban diet is from scavenging.

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152047


Posts: 128
Joined: Jan 2011
Post: #14
22-02-2012 06:45 PM

Sorry Lacb, yes I did look at the linked site and it was interesting.

However, I wasn't too convinced by the pie charts. The study found that in Bristol scavenged food made up 64% of the diet and in London it was 34%. That is a big variation for no obvious reason. I think you would need more studies to be able to come to any definite conclusion.

Also, the proportion of wild mammals making up the diet of Bristol and London foxes was relatively small at 4.9% in the former and 13.1% in the capital. This included all wild mammals. Probably not much of a range in London but that would certainly include mice of which there are plenty in SE23.

As for urban foxes being shy I don't think that is really the case. The foxes I see locally don't seem too bothered by human presence. During the cold spell a couple of weeks ago they were particularly brazen.

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Tinkerbell


Posts: 356
Joined: Dec 2007
Post: #15
23-02-2012 11:52 AM

My home office window overlooks the Garthorne Rd/Devonshire Rd. nature reserve. There are two "resident" foxes in the patch just behind my house, they roam Garthorne Road and the gardens here at night quite a bit, but tend to either sleep or explore the nature reserve during the daytime. Right now, both are actually sunbathing in the grass, protected by some blackberries, one is watching the neighbourhood cats. They're sort of huddled together and looking all innocent - like butter wouldn't melt. I know they're a menace, but it's very relaxing to watch them!

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lacb


Posts: 623
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #16
23-02-2012 12:08 PM

To 152047, I think the text on the fox web site I linked to answers your questions - pie charts are great visualisations but don't explain anything by themselves.

Foxes are highly adaptable and it stands to reason that they will eat more rats in London where there is a much higher population of these rodents. The site also explains how the diet variation and indeed presence of foxes is influenced by the predominant layout of housing and gardens - this, as well as many other factors, will also influence the variations between Bristol and London.

If you want another source, with more detail than you might care for, try this:
http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html#feeding

A selected quote from there:

Quote:
Suffice to say, foxes are extraordinarily opportunistic, omnivorous predators that feed predominantly on small mammals -- especially rodents (rats, mice, voles and the occasional squirrel) and lagomorphs (rabbits & hares) --, birds, insects (especially beetles during the summer months), earthworms, carrion, fruit and berries (in the autumn, especially blackberries).


The science is out there, you can look up the references if you wish. Or contact the Mammal Group at the University of Bristol who maintain the first link I posted. I, for one, am convinced that foxes do indeed eat rats and it is highly plausible that they would eat lots where they are abundant.

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that urban foxes are shy (I was referring to country foxes who have good reason to stear clear of humans) - they most certainly are not, a little too friendly in fact.

FWIW, I agree with Tinkerbell, like any wild animal they are a joy to watch.

They also happen to be the top predator - biogeography tells us that we should look after those. That doesn't mean that we should feed them though.

This post was last modified: 23-02-2012 12:10 PM by lacb.

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FionaLeaper


Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2012
Post: #17
23-02-2012 03:19 PM

Hi everyone,

Thank you very much for your replies!

I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond to you all individually - I've had such a huge response to my various online appeals for information that I can't keep up! However, I did want to say thank you to you all - I really appreciate you sharing your information, tips and thoughts on foxes!

Very best wishes,
Fiona

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seeformiles


Posts: 269
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #18
04-04-2012 02:59 PM

To 152047,

Saw a fox catch and eat a rat last night right under my window. It was tossing something up in the air several times, which I could clearly see was a rat. It then happily munched it whole! That mght also explain why you don't see any rat remains around. Earlier on the fox had been foraging around near the bushes nearby and using its claws to dig things out of the ground, so it was obviously looking for small insects and worms.

Rats and insects do form a large part of a fox's diet and they definitely help to keep rat numbers down, however much some of you dislike them.

So although I wasn't in time to film this, I can categorically state that foxes do eat rats.

This post was last modified: 04-04-2012 03:07 PM by seeformiles.

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