FOXES AND SQUIRRELS

Most mornings and evenings we would see a fox and his lady appear in the London garden. They seemed very much at home. It was a busy area, both with main trunk roads and an underground line that made plenty of noise, which ran under the founds of the house. There were plenty of signs that the foxes had a lair somewhere nearby. I was advised not to block up the gap holes that had already been dug under the fence. If I did, new ones, I was told, would appear. The brick wall could not be breached, the wooden gates could be.

Some years before, the owner of the house had enjoyed a bird table in the centre of the garden; not all her discarded bread scraps were eaten by the birds, very little of it, in fact. It was clear that her misguided animal feeding had attracted rather a lot of grey squirrels that she liked to observe and probably other wildlife, some of it unheard of in urban areas till recent years. She was oblivious to the developing problem, which was uncovered by a leak in the roof of the house.

The local authority were called in to deal with an infestation of squirrels that had homed themselves in the rather spacious loft of the house, also that of an attached neighbour. The rodent people did their job, made follow-up inspections. A bill was duly paid. Firm and clear instructions were given against leaving out any food scraps for any purpose, to avoid a repetition of the infestation. This instruction included bird food, seeds and nuts, the squirrels would love them.

The squirrels were rarely seen after the clear out, yet the foxes regularly arrived. There were plenty of fruit trees in neighbourhood gardens, plums, pears, and this one had apples. I don’t know if foxes eat windfall fruits. There seemed to be a reason for them being so comfortably where they were, the main one being, food.

Where I live, in a rural area, foxes are rarely seen in gardens, and certainly are guarded against near or on farms. They are out in fields; sometimes you see one on the verge of a road that has been in collision with a vehicle.

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0 thoughts on “FOXES AND SQUIRRELS

  1. I’m glad you posted this, Menhir. I knew you would write sensibly about it. There has been a lot of knee jerk reaction after the events in London. But as you so rightly say – problems can be foreseen.

    Where I live we get the odd fox, a couple of squirrels and rats. This is why we cannot put seed out for the birds except in a cold winter. And why we are very careful what goes out into the rubbish.

    I once lived somewhere where an elderly neighbour insisted on throwing out loaves of breads for the birds. All she attracted were endless pigeons, making it impossible for anyone to put out a line of washing without having it ruined. Our gardens became no-go areas and the council didn’t want to know.

    Then she noticed the local moggies were targeting her garden and killing the pigeons. So she filled her garden with moth-balls (I kid you not) in order to deter the cats. She then wondered why the squirrels had stopped coming as well….

    When I was young very little rubbish was thrown out. Six of us barely filled a single dustbin. Flour was bought in reusable canvas bags, everything that might attract rats or mice was burned on the fire. Bins were emptied every week.

    If people insist on leaving out food and rubbish you will attract all sorts of things into your garden. Some we may not actually like once they start to move in. The problem is, that when we live in a town or city, we are at the mercy of our neighbours and their potty ideas, as much as at the mercy of the local council and their schemes to try and avoid removing any rubbish at all. Not to mention the excessive packaging produced whenever we buy anything….:)

  2. Hello Tylluan,

    The knock on effects of less countryside and more urbanisation,is one reason why particular wildlife has been pushed into another environment. Animals migrate when they have to as hominids do.

    I believe that another effect of reduction in food supplies, is the noted lack of small bird life in urban gardens; the RSB have got populations watching for sparrows, for example, and have noted a lack of them in the city scape. My garden is not short of them. The local environment is very different, we can leave bird food available. There’ll be less in a couple weeks when the little ones have flown.

    In urban environments where there are close living populations, multi-occupied houses, it is difficult to control the rubbish that is left out for collection. Many authorities in London (the city I know best) literally demand that their own plastic refuse sacks are purchased, very expensively, (another refuse removal cost) and are left on the drive, the pavement or the front garden of the property for easy collection by their operators. If the refuse is not prepared as obligated, it is not taken. While all these bags await uplift, they are exposed to the wildlife, as well as semi-feral cats and urban-based foxes. No doubt, this misguided regulation, causes unintended consequences.

    There is no proof that bins with closed lids would be immune to animal foraging, but my guess is that it would be an obstacle and provide some deterrence. In this way, there could be some discouragement to certain animals settling in the numbers that they appear to be doing.

    In addition to my comments above, which I have witnessed in East London (including where the babes were assaulted by foxes in their room) other great tracts of South, South-East North and North West London, your observations are spot on. When you have huge volumes of people living in close proximity, however much you reduce personal rubbish in those over-populated environments, there is still a lot of it. It’s a relative reduction, worth having, but, it is still rubbish that needs sensible collection. Will it be?

  3. Foxes are a very serious problem in London when we lived there we regularly saw them in our garden …it was awful that the two babies were attacked by the fox but the fox must have been desperate to have entered the house ..so people must now shut their doors and lower windows to prevent such things happening again…

  4. Hello Lilian, good to hear from you.

    It believe it will take more than setting the barricades to deter foxes in London or other densely populated areas. They are part of the urban landscape now. I observed much foxy life in many areas of London. Closing up houses, making them hot and airless will create other infestations.

    The petty rules and regulations on refuse collection laid down by local authorities have many unintended consequences, this in part, is one of them. Even composting food in compost bins will encourage wild-life visitors.

    I commented to Tylluan,where we encroach upon the countryside we can expect more and more animal life to migrate and learn to live in man’s urban environment.

    There has to be a sensible and measured approach to this, where some wildlife can be encouraged to live elsewhere, in more suitable places that are unlikely to be encroached upon anytime soon by man.

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