Can Foxes Climb Fences?

Can foxes climb fences?

If a fox wants in, he’s coming in. That’s the short answer. The truth is foxes can jump up to 3 feet. After that, their strong, sharp claws make it possible for them to continue climbing well over 6 feet. In times of need, they will climb trees to hunt down prey. So, yes, if they really want to climb your fence, they will. Foxes can climb most fences. They will also make use of any objects that could make it easier for them to reach their objective. 

Knowing Your Enemy

You need to be as wily as the sly fox himself if you want to outsmart him and end the victor in this battle for territory. The first thing you need is to know your enemy. 

Foxes are:

  • Medium-sized carnivores.
  • A species of dog adapted to tackling obstacles.
  • Reasonably proficient diggers.
  • Perfectly capable of scaling a two-meter (6 ft) fence from a standing start. (They can clear even higher fences with ease when handy aids like bins are nearby to provide a helpful boost.)
  • Able to climb wire mesh with ease due to their strong, sharp claws. 
  • Territorial. They use droppings to mark their territory and objects within it.
  • Highly seasonal animals. Their presence in your garden will likely be temporary.

How To Deter Foxes From Entering Our Yard

Now to prove that we are smarter than our smaller four-legged adversary. How do we keep him out of our garden? Before we get back to the fence, let’s find out what attracts the fox to our yard. 

The most logical answer is food. Think beyond the proverbial fox in the hen house. Foxes like a quick dinner run where they can find one. A fox can smell the carcass of a buried pet or compost used in the garden. Where possible, you should remove the object the fox is attracted to. Do your best to eradicate food scraps and leftover pet food. At the very least, you need to ensure the safety of your animals and put something in place to deter the fox from returning.

If you’re protecting smaller animals, like guinea pigs and rabbits, specific fence precautions could be overkill. What you need is a secure, sturdy, predator-proof hutch. The best hutches are durable, with strong, thin wire mesh so that foxes can’t get through to your animal. 

If you are a chicken owner, you might consider erecting specialized electric chicken fences. Add a strong, wire mesh roof to your electric fencing for chickens to fox-proof your backyard coop. The shock isn’t enough to kill or badly injure the animal, just enough to frighten them and deter them from trying to breach the chicken fence again. 

Don’t be overly concerned about using an electrified fence. Even chickens are usually smart enough to avoid the fence after a while. In basic terms, it is an open circuit. The animal touches the fence, electrons travel from the fence to the earth and closes the circuit. The animal feels a quick muscle contraction in response to the electron flow. Their fur is a poor electrical conductor and insulates them against shocks delivered by electrical fences if the voltage setting is too low. If you install an electric fence, though, you will need to trim around the bottom regularly to prevent grass or other vegetation short-circuiting it. Consider a fence that you can set up yourself, with boundaries and parameters specific to your needs. 

Foxes are incredibly smart and cunning, but they’re also pretty jumpy. They are aware of their small size and rely on their stealth rather than brute strength. They’re opportunistic predators that are easily scared away, so they’re unlikely to approach close to your house unless they are domesticated or especially used to humans. That’s not to say they won’t venture closer if they are desperate. Though you might typically expect to find a fox in the scrub, you may be surprised to discover them seeking refuge in an urban setting.

Keeping pet enclosures close to the house is one way of deterring foxes and protecting your animals. By placing hutches, cages, coops, and playpens close to the house, you ensure that only the most daring of predators will take the risk to approach. Motion sensors lights may help deter foxes as well. 

The Best Fencing To Keep Foxes Out

Fencing can be effective, but the barrier is not absolute. Additional fox control in a buffer zone outside the enclosure may make fencing much more effective. Adding a roof to your enclosure might help keep a determined fox away.

There is a range of fence designs that have been developed to answer the question of how to deter foxes. Choosing the best design depends on details like:

  • which species are to be protected,
  • the area to be covered,
  • whether other pests are also to be excluded (eg, rabbits,)
  • the presence of non-target animals, and
  • maintenance resources and budget.

When choosing the right fence for your situation, the local environment also needs to be considered. Features such as the topography, substrate (soil, rock, etc.), vegetation density, climatic conditions, and geographical location will influence the fence’s design.

Most fence designs, including chicken fencing, are composites containing wire netting and electric wires. The wire netting (one and a half-to-2 inch diameter hexagonal) stops foxes pushing through the base of the fence, 1 inch mm diameter is needed if rabbits are to be excluded as well). Electric wires are used as added deterrents, though they are generally ineffective by themselves. Placement and spacing of wires may vary.

Don’t forget that foxes are excellent diggers, so it may prove beneficial to bury the wire netting at least 450mm underground or attach to a concrete or wooden floor, particularly in the case of a small pen. Another effective option is to place an apron of netting angled outwards across the ground for 300 to 600mm at the base of the fencing. Aprons need to be secured with weights or pegs in areas of soft substrate or watercourses.

We know these wily pests are excellent jumpers and climbers, so many designs double the standard height (1800mm). They use more netting or various spacings of electric wires. Naturally, this will increase the cost of the fence. An outward-facing overhang may also prevent predators from scaling the fence. These overhangs can be floppy or rigid and incorporate electric wires as added deterrents. In small pens, a complete wire netting roof is one option. 

Fence posts and corners are often targets of foxes. These areas should get special attention. Steel posts will be more difficult to scale than timber ones. Attaching extra netting at the corners will help discourage climbing. Keep the foxes away by strengthening weak points in the netting and joins. The predators can’t chew their way through a wire that is thicker than 0.9mm.

Final Thoughts

So, can foxes climb fences? You bet your bottom dollar they can. The fox can climb high and fit into the smallest of spaces. That fox will run you ragged if you let him.