Foxes made a den in your garden? Here's what to do – Hayley Matthews
I've written many times about my love of foxes. They amaze me with their slinkiness and playful nature.
They're very like dogs, albeit a little more timid, as I've witnessed on many occasions when they've scampered from my territorial and bossy wee cats. I have one fox who comes most nights.
As soon as my keys jingle in the backdoor, I hear the neighbour’s dog barking and kicking off, and then I know she's on her way over to us. I once saw four of them on our garden wall swishing their big beautiful tails about as they played on the wall. What a lovely sight.
They are partial to playing with the odd football and as I've discovered recently, they also like a chew on the foam padding of our sun-lounger seats. However, most importantly, they love to protect their young.
So when I read an article last week about the family who were saddened to find they'd disturbed a tiny wee cub litter when taking down a garden shed, I thought I'd look at how to avoid disturbing our fox families at such a crucial time for them, and spread the news!
With Chris Packham and the Fox Project charity advising a 'do not disturb' approach if you suspect there is a cub litter in your garden, then we really must take heed because if we disturb them, mum may abandon them and no one wants that.
The Fox Project is asking British families to be "cubs scouts" and protect the vulnerable fox families living in our gardens by being vigilant, not disrupting them and looking out for dens that may be in our garden.
The family who'd taken down a shed and found a litter of four-week-old cubs called a rescue officer from the Fox Project who took the cubs to their intensive care unit to check them over.
They then returned them to see if mum would come back which sometimes usually takes two or three attempts. However, it's good news because after the cubs were put into a cardboard box with a hot-water bottle, mum came and took them into a new den one at a time. Such a relief!
Foxes like to make their dens in sheltered sites, often among trees, under buildings or dense vegetation, so the advice from the Fox Project is to be aware of these areas in your garden and not to disturb them if there are signs of a den. Nobody wants to upset mum and her cubs.
If you want to go one further, leave a little chicken, water and some boiled eggs out for the fox mums because they need all the calories they can get just now as they nurse their cubs.
We're surrounded by wonderfully clever urban foxes, not to mention many other species of wildlife who are constantly adapting to living with us and our notion to dig in their living areas (aka our gardens).
So please keep your eyes peeled and think twice before doing anything to that garden out the back.
I'm so pleased the family who discovered the fox cubs under the hut were able to seek help and advice from the Fox Project. If you don't have foxes in your area but you want to help them, you can always donate a few pennies to them at foxproject.org.uk. I'm sure they'd welcome any help as they don't get funding from local government or councils and treat around 1,000 foxes including 250 cubs every year.
To me, they're absolute angels.