Okay, for those that might not yet be familiar with the concept, let me clarify what “The Urban Fox” is. I’m not talking about one of the imaginative, named related names that many of London’s Pubs seem to have, e.g. The Red Lion or The Walrus & The Carpenter, but rather actual foxes. Having visited London many times in the past, I am familiar with the phenomenon of wild foxes randomly popping up all over London. Though for the uninitiated, this may seem like a bit of a joke, or an elaborate prank. Indeed, when I first read about it in a paper in 2006 I thought it was hilarious. But in 2008 I saw one my own eyes – right off Oxford Street. I’ve since found that its a far more common occurrence than I originally believed, having had two other encounters since.
The most recent of these was mere days ago. While walking back home from my friend’s place, at approximately 1 AM, I encountered two feuding foxes in a residential park. I attempted to get a picture of course but the flurry of flying fur (yes I am a fan of alliteration) and the distance, not to mention lack of lighting, made a decent shot impossible. They moved with lighting fast speed and jumped over fences and low walls with such agility it was marvelous to watch. And indeed they put on quite a show. I had to pause for quite a few minutes before they got far enough from the road for me to confidently pass. And I urge any of you who may encounter them to be similarly cautious. They may not look like much of a threat, and I’m sure some of you would think “Oh but they are more scared of you than you are of them”. Normally I’m sure you would be right. But thats an adage usually attached to animals in the wild. These foxes are probably just as much at home in the city as you are (more so if you just moved here). They aren’t as frightened by humans as their wild country counterparts. So despite how cool it might be to get a nice close-up pic, I recommend keeping a healthy distance. In fact in 2010, there was a media frenzy around the fact that a fox jumped into someone’s backyard near Victoria Park (which I now realize is right next to where I live) and attacked their two sleeping children as they lay in their crib on the second floor of the house. Just goes to show you how daring these animals can be.
According to the London Newspaper, The Gaurdian, they foxes moved into the cities as early as the 1930s. By the 1980s there were reportedly some 33,000 adult foxes in urban areas. Who knows how many there are now? Its so shocking and yet amusing in a city where they are no stray dogs or cats, to instead encounter a creature that almost looks a combination of the two!
So if you have rubbish bins outside your home, always be sure to use heavy duty garbage bags and seal and/or tightly tie off the bags when disposing of them. Be sure to keep the lids or tops of the bigs firmly shut. And no matter how warm it might be, don’t leave your doors open, even during the day, unless you have a screen door. Now of course, how far you heed this advice is up to you. It might not be necessary for most residents, indeed I feel fairly secure, despite living next to a large park because there’s a canal between us and a 20 foot drop outside my window down to the street. But those of you who may have easily accessible rooms or houses, be careful. Though I’m sure the latter part of this advice is just as pertinent to keeping out burglars as it is foxes.
Lastly, if you’ve had similar experiences or sightings, do share. We can make it a game by slowly crossing off streets/sections of the city.
Take care and happy hunting.