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Home Forums Carers / rescuing a hedgehog Do foxes predate hedgehogs? YES! Reply To: Do foxes predate hedgehogs? YES!

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Hi JollyP

So sorry to hear about your fox problem. I have been saying for ages, you cannot trust a fox with hedgehogs and find it very worrying when hearing about foxes and hedgehogs being fed side by side. I have heard before about certain foxes who become expert at killing hedgehogs. One fox I heard about just kept very still until the hog unrolled and then pounced and killed it. Having said that, I had a hog who was attacked by a dog and there was a very foxy smell in the air. I smelt it before I saw the dog and was expecting a fox. I mentioned this to the Wildlife Hospital and they said hogs do sometimes give off a smell when attacked.

Sadly, it may be more likely for foxes to kill former rescue hogs or hogs which have been handled. In his ‘Hedgehogs’ book Pat Morris says ‘The risk might have been increased because our animals were accustomed to being caught and handled. They might have become insufficiently wary of ‘attack’ and several barely bothered to roll up when they were caught for weighing each night. This would be dangerously casual behaviour when accosted by a badger.’ This is an extreme example as these hogs were involved in a study, so had arguably being handled even more than the average over-wintered hoglet, but nevertheless over-wintered hogs may be less likely to roll up. Also the predators mentioned were badgers but if the hog doesn’t roll up the same would apply to foxes. It is another reason why I feel it is not a good idea to encourage wild hedgehogs to become too habituated to humans – who are predators as well – by regularly catching them to remove ticks, mark them, etc.

I don’t think you should blame yourself, though. You have been doing your best to help the hedgehogs and rescue hogs and it is very unfortunate that this fox or foxes who have developed a taste for hedgehogs has chosen your area.

There is an argument that if you feed the fox as well it may be less likely to kill hedgehogs, but I’m not sure that sort of logic always works with wild animals. I can see it is a bit of a dilemma for you. I am assuming there is no way of making it difficult for a fox to get into your garden and anyway the hog would need to leave it at some point. It seems to me that whilst that fox or foxes are around the hogs will always be at risk and it may be that any cubs pick up the habit from their parents. But if you stop feeding when the hogs (especially the previously rescued ones) have come to rely on it, they will find things more difficult. Maybe you could find someone else near enough and far enough away that could feed them for a while until the fox stops visiting? It’s a very difficult decision, but one you really need to make yourself after weighing up all the pros and cons.

If you were going to continue feeding, the only things I can really suggest is to have as many entrances/exits to your garden as possible, so that the fox doesn’t know which one the hog is going to use, and maybe spread feeding areas around as widely as possible, for the same reason. It may not stop the fox, but may make it more difficult for it?

I wouldn’t want to be in your position. Good luck.