Foxes are often considered invasive species, not just because they make loud noises at night and prey on livestock but also because they leave foul-scented droppings on lawns and yards. When encountering fox poop, people will most likely mistake them for dog droppings since they have an uncanny resemblance to them.
Fox poop looks similar to dog poop: they are round-shaped, segmented, and have tapered ends. They measure around 2 inches long and have diameters of ¾ to ½ inch. They’re usually brown, black, or tan in color and have animal and plant remains on them depending on what they’ve eaten.
This article covers information on how to distinguish fox scats based on their various characteristics, potential diseases fox scats may carry, comparison of animal droppings, and other essential information.
Table of Contents
Diet of a Fox
Other contents found in red fox guts, according to this study, include birds (mostly blackbirds), insects, human refuse, and livestock (mostly sheep, chickens, and ducks). For arctic foxes, their diets are primarily composed of marine mammals, fish, sea birds, seals, and lemmings.
When looking for prey, foxes may hunt in groups, although they’re mostly solitary creatures. They would adopt a unique pouncing technique where they leap into the air and land directly on their prey to quickly incapacitate and kill them.
How to Examine the Fox Scat?
When you encounter animal droppings, never pick them up. You would be risking the possibility of transmitting diseases that they potentially carry.
Use long sticks to pick apart the poop and make physical assessments. Again, don’t pick them up even when you’re wearing gloves, unless you plan on cleaning them right away.
You could take pictures of the scat so that you can properly assess and identify them as recommended by specialists. You wouldn’t want to linger for long as they can be foul-odored.
Knowing what they already look like will save you time as you can readily identify them by taking a few looks.
Fox Poop Identification
- Shape: Round-shaped, and segmented with tapered ends. The length would be about 2 inches long with a ¾ to ½ inch diameter.
- Texture: Smooth and wet when fresh. Rough, hairy, and tight when dried up.
- Color: Tan, brown, or black.
- Contents: Fur (mostly of rabbits or rodents), bone bits, plant remains, insects, and bird feathers.
- Smell: Pungent but not as overpowering as dog poop, however, the food foxes eat can contribute to how bad the odor will be.
Diseases That Can Spread Through Fox Scat
A study discovered a fox scat sample was positive in Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus canadensis, which are tapeworms that infect foxes and can also infect humans.
E. multilocularis is responsible for Alveolar Echinococcosis, which causes cysts and symptoms associated with liver cancer and liver cirrhosis. According to the CDC, ingesting food products and items that have been contaminated with fox stool may have E. multilocularis on them.
Red foxes are also known to be carriers of Toxoplasma gondii in their feces which can be transmitted to humans and cause Toxoplasmosis. Symptoms include fever, swollen lymph glands, body aches, and inflammation.
How to Differentiate Fox Scat From the Droppings of Other Animals?
|Badger Poop||Cylindrical-shaped similar to sausages and are usually dark in color.|
|Bear Poop||Cylindrical-shaped, often contains vegetation, and measures 7 inches long with a diameter of 1 inch.|
|Coyote Poop||Ends are tapered into tails. Color varies according to food digested: if fruits, its color will be similar to that of the fruit and if meat and insects, it’ll be dark-colored, almost black.|
|Deer Poop||Small, dimple, or oval-shaped, measuring about 0.3 inches. Usually dry when they land on the ground and are in clusters.|
|Rabbit Poop||Comes in clusters and is round-shaped. Usually green or yellowish brown in color and covered in grass.|
|Raccoon Poop||Often black in color, cylindrical-shaped with blunt ends, and measures up to 1.2 inches in diameter and 3 ½ to 7 inches long.|
Does the Scat of All Foxes Look the Same?
Since fox species have varying sizes and diets, which could influence the physical characteristics of their scat. Fennec foxes, the smallest fox species, are 12 to 16 inches big.
The amount of food they consume is relatively less compared to other foxes, which makes their scat just as small.
Gray foxes, on the other hand, are 32 to 44 inches in size and primarily eat small vertebrates and invertebrates. Their scat would have bone bits, fur, or feathers in them and will be relatively larger.
How Can Fox Scat Identification Help You?
Identifying fox scat can help you determine what they have been eating, especially if you found them in your local neighborhood where there are residents who keep livestock.
If they have animal pieces in them, such as bits of feather, fur, or bone, it’s best to warn everyone so that they have the time to reinforce their livestock pens or cages. Knowing what they look like will also help you assess and deal with the situation efficiently.
Can You Track a Fox Using Fox Scat?
You can track a fox using fox scat. Foxes mark their territories using scent marking or leaving excrements and urine behind, especially during winter when food and other resources are scarce. Often, you would also find paw tracks nearby, which will further help you locate a fox.
How to Get Rid of Foxes?
Increasing fox populations in urban and suburban areas are attributed to how well foxes adapt to human activity.
They don’t often pose a threat to human safety but remember that they’re opportunistic feeders and would prey on your livestock and rare occasions, even cats. They would also make a mess out of your yards and lawns while looking for food.
To get rid of foxes, here are some simple methods to use:
- Purchase electric fencing to provide protection for your yards or lawns.
- Eliminate any potential food sources such as compost pits, pet food lying on the ground, meat scraps, and fruits that fell off of trees. Also, dispose of any dead livestock.
- Make sure the spaces under homes and buildings are covered so that foxes won’t make dens out of them.
- When encountering foxes in the neighborhood, make loud and obnoxious noises, as that could easily deter them.
- Call your local conservationist or ranger for help.
How Do You Keep Foxes Out of Your Yard?
You can try the methods recommended above to keep them out of your yard. For added protection, you can try installing a sprinkler system or any state-of-the-art fox deterrents to scare the foxes once they step foot in the yard.
The best way to truly prevent them from entering your premises is to keep your yards clean. Cut the grass and pick up trash, animal droppings, and leftover food.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Fox Scat Have a Distinct Smell?
Fox scat has a distinct smell. They have a musky and pungent smell that you can differentiate from other similar animals, such as dogs, cats, and coyotes.
What Does It Mean if a Fox Poops on My Doorstep?
It means they’re establishing your house, porch, lawn, or at least somewhere around the perimeter as their territory. This is often accompanied by urine markings.
How Should I Deal With the Fox Scat in My Garden?
- Mark the area where the fox scat is found.
- Use rubber gloves to properly handle the poop and a face mask to avoid inhaling its scent.
- Scoop the poop up using a kitchen towel or any fabric with thick material. Make sure you keep the poop at arm’s length and avoid direct contact.
- Put the poop inside a plastic bag and throw it in a compost pit. Hide the poop’s scent well so that foxes don’t see it as an invitation to leave more of their poop.
- Optional, but you can deodorize and disinfect the area where the poop has been.
How Do I Stop Fox Poo in My Garden?
It’s similar to how to keep them off of your yards and how to get rid of them generally. Make sure your garden is spick and span, and purchase and install any deterrents such as electric fences or even a sprinkler system.
What Smells Do Foxes Hate?
Foxes hate the smell of white vinegar, garlic, human scents, and capsaicin, which is found in peppers.
Not all fox scat looks the same as different species, and their varying diets can influence the size, texture, and content of their scat. Identifying fox scat can help track the pesky animals and alert people in your neighborhood of their presence.
To get rid of foxes, clean up your gardens and yards, purchase deterrents, obstruct possible places where they can build dens, and call your local ranger for more help.
List of Sources
Cavallini, P., Volpi, T. (1996). Variation in the Diet of the Red Fox in a Mediterranean Area. The Pennsylvania State University.
Dewey, T., Middlebrook, C. (2007). Vulpes lagopus. Animal Diversity Web.
Ober. H. K., Kane, A. (2021). How to Identify the Wildlife Species Responsible for Damage in Your Yard. University of Florida.
Tse, C., et al. (2019). Surveillance of Echinococcus tapeworm in coyotes and domestic dogs in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Canada communicable disease report.
Bastien, M., et al. (2018). High density of fox and cat faeces in kitchen gardens and resulting rodent exposure to Echinococcus multilocularis and Toxoplasma gondii. Folia parasitologica.