"Are You Planning To Keep Your Pet Rabbit or Guinea Pig Outdoors?"
If So ...Then You Need To Read This!
If you are going to keep your rabbits or guinea pigs outside, then you need to accept that foxes are a very real and potential threat to their safety.
Foxes are extremely cunning and effective predators and despite popular belief can strike at any time of the day or night.
They do not kill out of spite or because of some perverse ‘bloodlust’ - they are just wild animals, hunting to feed themselves and their families and are a slave to their instincts.
In my opinion many people are way too complacent when it comes to keeping their small pets safe and wrongly presume that just because their hutch or run is in their back garden that this is all they need to do or worry about.
At the end of the day your bunnies or piggy’s are relying on you to protect them and their welfare and safety is placed squarely on your shoulders.
And so if you are going to keep your rabbit or guinea pig outside then I recommend that you take some of the following steps to safeguard their welfare.
7 Ways To Deter Foxes And Keep Your Pets Safe
There are a range of things you can do to greatly reduce the chances of a fox attacking and killing your guinea pig or rabbit.
“Prevention is the best cure” and by this I mean preventing foxes from getting near your pets in the first place.
Just the presence of a fox sniffing around your hutch or run and attempting to gain entry is enough to kill a young bunny!
The Clark family sadly lost their young Netherland Dwarf when it literally died of shock after a fox tried unsuccessfully to gain entry to one of their hutches.
Don't let something like this happen to you!
Deter foxes from your garden using scent repellents.
Scent repellents target a fox's keen sense of smell.
They typically work by mimicking certain odours that lead a fox to believe that another animal has taken over its territory and their instinct to avoid confrontation usually results in them moving on somewhere else.
It is a cheap and reasonably effective solution for keeping foxes out of your garden and away from your pets.
You will need to be a little more hands-on as they need to be applied fairly regularly to work effectively.
One of the most popular and best-selling scent based deterrents in the UK is a product called Scoot’.
Click here to read reviews and to order Scoot Fox Repellent
Recommended by The Fox Project it is quick and simple to use and just requires you to dissolve one of the sachets of powder in water and then spread it around your garden with a watering can.
Using sound deterrents to stop foxes
Another effective and recommended option is to target a fox’s acute sense of hearing.
For this you will need an ultrasonic device that unleashes a very high-pitched burst of noise that scares the fox. The sound is not audible to human ears but is very effective in startling the fox. Every time the fox crosses the motion sensor, the ultrasonic device is triggered.
While these devices can come with a slightly higher price tag than scent deterrents they can be quite effective at keeping foxes away from your pets and once set up require minimal ongoing effort from you.
One of the top selling noise deterrents worth considering is the Rentokil Fox Deterrent.
Designed to operate day and night, in rain or shine, is easy to set up and runs off just 1 x 9 volt battery . The noise it gives off is inaudible to humans and has a detection range of around 10 metres.
By placing a few of them close to your hutch you in effect create an invisible, inaudible defensive perimeter. Just remember to check the batteries every now and then!
If you couple this with a scent deterrent like Scoot then you have a quick, effective and relatively cheap dual sense deterrent.
There are other motion activated devices available that use a jet of water as a effective form of scare tactic.
According to the Oxford Croquet club (who experienced problems with foxes digging and fouling their green) a water driven deterrent called Scarecrow was more effective than audio
So you may want to consider this or a similar product like the Jet Spray Repeller if you want to go down the water route.
Build a fox proof enclosure
One of your best options and something I myself have done is to build a large fox proof enclosure.
It doesn’t have to be a major time consuming construction project. My enclosure took me one trip to B and Q and a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.
I have my coop and run inside a corner of my veggie patch although the same principle could apply for your rabbit hutch. Two sides are formed by our boundary fence and I’ve used a few 6ft by 6ft trellis panels and a few 2 by 4 wooden posts to complete the square enclosure.
Around the base of the trellis I have tacked on some heavy duty chicken wire to stop any possibility of a fox getting through the small gaps in the trellis work, or anything getting out!
It might be an idea to consider adding a few fence wall spikes (spiky strips) to the top of the fences especially if your neighbours shed is nearby. I’ve seen foxes gain entry to a friend’s garden by climbing up onto a neighbour‘s shed.
Another important factor to remember is that foxes will dig as well as climb.
So to prevent this, the bottom of a poultry fence should have the wire buried at least 10 to 12 inches in the ground and then turned outwards by about 8.
Ideally you should also put rubble or old bricks on top of the turned out wire before covering it back over with soil.
You'll also want to make sure that the chicken wire you use is of a good quality with a thick gauge as foxes can chew through thin wire.
We have a range of heavy duty chicken wire available in various sizes available from our chicken coop website that is a lot cheaper than the stuff you get from B&Q.
Fox Proof Your Garden
According to research by The Fox Project’s director Trevor Williams and former fox researcher Andy Wilson some 75% of fox earths in London are located under garden sheds, with other favourite places being in bramble patches, under building foundations or in disused buildings.
They also note that an adult fox can easily get through a hole 12cm (5 in.) in diameter.
If you keep your animals outside in your back garden then take a closer look around for any signs of foxes, make sure that any old fox holes are blocked and that animals can’t get under sheds or decking to build dens.
Also keep an eye out for any well warn paths or places where a fox can gain entry to your property and do you best to block these up using chicken wire or rubble or whatever you have handy.
Location. Location. Location.
Consider positioning your hutch closer to your house or if you have a dog and they have an outdoor kennel then you might want to consider placing your hutch nearby as their presence may deter a fox.
This is presuming that you keep a large breed and that aren’t equally interested in getting hold of your rabbit or guinea pig too!
If you have a real problem with foxes visiting your garden then you may consider actually putting your hutch in a garage or large shed.
I would also recommend putting either your hutch on paving slabs or add a wire skirting around the perimeter of the hutch to prevent rabbits burrowing out or a fox getting in.
Keep your hutch secure.
Check regularly for signs of weakness caused by your rabbit.
Some rabbits will chew the framework of their hutch which can end up weakening the structure to the point that a fox may then be able to force themselves inside.
Chewing is unfortunately a common problem with some rabbits. They chew to obtain food and to investigate and alter their environment but if your rabbit starts chewing at their hutch don’t ignore it!
It could be sign they are bored, stressed, or frustrated, so try providing a good variety of alternatives on which your rabbit can safely chew.
Things like branches from apple or willow trees, untreated willow baskets and/or chewable toys.
There are also repellent sprays widely available but I've heard of mixed results as to their effectiveness.
If your rabbit constantly chews at their hutch, regardless of what you do to try and prevent it, then you may need to fix either hardwood or metal strips over the wood that is being damaged to ensure that the security of your rabbits is not compromised in any way.
Remember foxes are incredibly persistent and once they know there is a potential food source there, they will be back. So always be on the lookout for signs of weakness or any other potential vulnerabilities which they can exploit.
Keep Your Hutch Locked At All Time
If you have a fox problem in your area then I recommend that you add a few more locks to the wooden doors and a padlock to any wire doors at the bottom of your hutch.
Also make sure if you hutch has a lift up lid that you secure it when not in use as it is possible that a fox could potentially push up on the roof of the hutch and access it from there.
And don’t rush. Taking a few extra seconds to ensure you have firmly closed and locked all the doors and gates on your hutch or run could potentially save you a great deal of distress further down the road.
Invest in Electric Fencing
This is by far the most effective way to keep your rabbits and guinea pigs safe from foxes and electric fencing can offer your pets the highest level of safety.
If you have a problem with foxes in your area then this is my recommended and preferred method.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s neither cruel nor dangerous for a fox (or your pet rabbit or guinea pig) as it provides a short, sharp, harmless shock to the inquisitive nose of the intruder which will deter predators and keep your chickens where you want them.
Studies have shown that a single shock is all that is needed for it to act as a psychological barrier and that it is very unlikely that once shocked a fox will try to dig under or jump over a fence, even if they can easily clear the top of it (such as with electric poultry netting which is only one metre high) so it’s probably the most effective way to your pets.
We offer Hotline’s electric kits at some of the lowest online prices.
You may feel that you don’t have a problem with foxes in your area and that your rabbit or guinea pig will be perfectly safe.
But remember that a lot of people that have lost their pets most likely thought the same.
Even if you think you don’t have any issues with foxes I still recommend that you take some of these added precautions outlined in this article.
Don’t forget that at the end of the day YOU are the one responsible for the welfare of your pets and the onus is on you to take all the precautions necessary to keep your pets safe.