IS IT OK TO HAND-FEED A WILD FOX?
Please do NOT hand-feed or stroke a wild fox! This is not in the fox’s interest but puts them in grave danger. “When you hand-feed a fox you train them to associate a human hand with food.” says Professor Dawn Scott, the UK’s leading fox expert. She strongly advises against hand-feeding because with time a conditioned fox may approach other humans whose gardens they visit, begging for food by touching or nibbling on their hand. This person might feel threatened and “attacked” by the fox and in a worst-case scenario that person might get the “aggressive” fox culled. Every summer the tabloids are full with sensationalist headlines like “Deranged Fox Bit My Finger” and these perpetuate the distorted image of the fox as villains that are a danger to humans when in reality we are the foxes’ predators and a danger to them.
It is tempting to reach out and make that connection with a curious wild animal that may come within an arms-length of you. Wide-eyed juvenile foxes are exploring the world right now and as most have not yet learnt that humans can be cruel, these naïve youngsters approach humans in a playful manner. Let these foxes approach you and allow them to have a sniff but don’t hand-feed them, play with them, stroke them or let them into your house.
There is a worrying trend on social media where people post clip after clip of them hand-feeding a fox and in some cases even stroke the fox or place a finger into a fox’s jaw, teasing the fox whilst feeding them. This is so confusing for a fox. They are chewing a sausage whilst you place a finger in their jaw – how are they supposed to know the difference between food and your body? This behaviour is incredibly irresponsible towards the fox and utterly selfish. Look what I can do!! For the sake of likes and gaining more followers, these influencers are trying to tame, claim and “own” an animal whose beauty comes from the very fact that are wild and free. These animals are not “ours”, they are no pets but little wildlings. We are their predators and they should be weary of us in the interest of their own safety. We can watch them and support them by offering shelter, water and some supplementary food but this animal should always be free to choose what they do rather than being trained to become a social media circus act.
Click here to read more about this topic in our in-depth blog on hand-feeding and stroking wild foxes