| Urban foxes: the facts and the fiction|
|Age: Life expectancy is less than two years.|
What's the difference between an urban fox and a regular fox? It is largely a question of postcode. Many foxes move between town and country, and most urban foxes are, in fact, suburban. Generally speaking, a fox is a fox.
Wrong! Urban foxes are marauding giants that feed on takeaway curries, cats and babies. That image is more urban myth than urban fox.
But one just attacked a baby in south-east London! True, but such incidents are rare, according to the RSPCA. Foxes only attack out of fear, and tend to shy away from humans and larger animals.
But they also get huge from eating KFC out of bins! Some are the size of horses! Urban foxes aren't bigger than rural foxes, and they mostly don't eat out of bins. The main reason they go near houses is because people feed them.
And that's why the population is exploding! We're overrun! There isn't any hard evidence for that – the last estimate, from the 1980s, put the total urban population at 33,000. The consensus among experts is that there has been no significant increase since, largely because populations are still recovering from a mange epidemic. Numbers may, of course, fluctuate locally.
Well, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, described them as a "menace", and I can't see that they do any good. They do eat a lot of rats. Who knows what London's rodent problem would be like without 10,000 urban foxes patrolling the streets.
I say we cull them all and find out. Culls don't work. New foxes move straight into unoccupied territory, and they also breed too rapidly to make extermination effective. Fox populations are, in fact, remarkably self-regulating.
Can we just trap them and move them to the country? The country doesn't really want them, and, anyway, they tend to come back.
Do say: "We must strive to understand this noble creature, while keeping our wheelie bins shut tight."
Don't say: "Hello, Mr Fox! Would you like half a pasta salad?"