Urban foxes: Overview

Red foxes have successfully colonised urban areas throughout the world. They are widespread in many Australian, European, Japanese and North American cities.

Map of London centred by a pin

In Britain, foxes were first established in cities such as Bristol and London during the 1940s. More recently, cities such as Cambridge and Norwich have been colonised. Similar patterns of colonization are found worldwide. Foxes were recorded in Melbourne as early as the 1930s and were widespread in many Australian cities by the 1970s, but in Zurich, Switzerland, urban foxes only appeared during the 1980s.

Fox populations are generally higher in urban areas than rural areas. Until recently, fox numbers were largely stable in urban areas. During the 1990s a parasitic disease called sarcoptic mange spread across most of mainland Britain, causing declines in both rural and urban foxes. With higher densities in urban areas, the decline was more noticeable and in some populations, more than 95% of all individuals died. Despite this, populations are recovering slowly.

Small pie chart showing Bristol fox diet

Fox populations are not limited by food in urban areas. Most eat a wide range of food items, the bulk of which is deliberately provided by householders, and not scavenged from bins. Foxes also eat a large variety of wild food stuffs including fruit, invertebrates, and small mammals and birds.

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