Accommodation of Casualty Vulpes vulpes - Red Fox (Wildlife Casualty Management)
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Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / UK Wildlife Casualty Management/ Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords N.B. This information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Accommodation which contains background information together with links to the Electronic Library and Organisations (UK Contacts). The related Species pages contain similar linkages.
Description This page has been prepared for the "UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the needs of the following species: Vulpes vulpes - Red fox

Transport Container:

  • Carrying cage of heavy mesh, small gauge to reduce risk of tooth damage.
  • Preferably with a crush facility.
  • Towels should be provided within the cage for bedding.
  • Cover any open sides with a cloth such as a towel or blanket.

Short term (Immediate/Emergency) Accommodation:

  • Solid kennel with barred gate, e.g. a robust transport kennel such as a Vari Kennel.
  • Newspaper may be used to line the cage.
  • Towels should be provided for bedding.
  • May be left within the container used for transportation.
  • (B151, B199, V.w26)

Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation:

  • Dim, quiet pen.
  • Concrete, metal or similar materials are required, not wood.
  • e.g. solid kennel with barred gate.
  • Newspaper or sawdust may be used as bedding.
  • Old logs may be provided for gnawing without tooth damage.
  • Food and water bowls should be stainless steel and of a non-tip design.
  • Foxes are excellent climbers and escapologists therefore pen design should be escape proof.
  • Highly stressed foxes may continually jump up at pen walls and scrape their nails until the nail beds bleed. These individuals may be ready for release or require transfer to a long-term type of accommodation.
  • A plastic dustbin should be offered as a hide within the pen for security and can also be used as an aid when catching up the fox.
  • Observation of the casualty without disturbance should be possible either via an observation window in the door or a close-circuit television monitoring system.
  • (B151, B199, D28, V.w26)

Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation:

  • Outdoor paddock with a perimeter fence of chain link netting, 2m high with overhang at top.
  • Fence buried at least 0.3m and continuing inside enclosure for at least 1m.
  • The perimeter of the fence should be checked for evidence of digging on a daily basis to prevent escape.
  • Pen should contain adequate natural vegetation and ground cover.
  • It is important that no agrochemicals are used within the paddock.
  • Within the pen artificial dens should be provided and and loose earth for digging.
  • Food can be thrown into the enclosure to stimulate foraging behaviour as the fox finds its meal.
  • Individual adult casualties should be housed in separate enclosures.
  • Fox cubs hand reared in stable social groups should be group housed.
  • As an example, an area 60-80 square metres may provide accommodation for a maximum of eight individuals.
  • Ideally the pen should be situated at the intended release site, allowing a soft release from the pen.(D28)
  • (D28, V.w26)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • Short-term (Immediate / Emergency) Accommodation is designed to be used for a short period of time only, e.g. prior to examination, to allow basic first-aid to be carried out, while an animal requires intensive care, or while specialist accommodation is being prepared.
    • The most important requirements are warmth, quiet and dark or dim lighting.
  • Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation is designed for the short-term care of individual animals or groups of animals, particularly during treatment and rehabilitation.
    • Hospital accommodation is commonly constructed with hygiene and easy cleaning as the main considerations, but the specific needs of the patients, including behavioural needs, should also be considered.
  • Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation facilities for wildlife are generally larger and more complex than accommodation designed only for temporary occupancy.
    • In general this type of accommodation is not suitable for animals which require daily treatment.
    • A period in rehabilitation accommodation may be particularly important when an animal has been hospitalised for some time.
    • Rehabilitation accommodation may be used e.g. for group housing to avoid humanisation prior to release
  • If an animal is maintained in long-term care accommodation for a substantial period of time, the animal must have some form of environmental enrichment to encourage natural behaviours (possibly through food presentation techniques, cage furniture that encourages activity, or play items that would be found in its native environment). This is to reduce the risk of boredom as the animal becomes accustomed to its enclosure and the possible development of behavioural problems. (V.w6)
  • Consider requirements for handling.
  • Consider requirements for cleaning and provision of food and water.
  • May urinate in water bowl - this should be checked frequently.
  • Rehabilitation accommodation must allow discrete observation while animals are being integrated into a group.
  • Ideally rehabilitation pens should be situated at the intended release site, allowing a soft release from the pen.(D28)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Foxes are highly destructive and may rapidly destroy wooden structures, allowing their escape.
  • Avoid use of wire mesh on which the canine teeth may be fractured during escape attempts.
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Suitable pet-carriers should be available from good pet stores or animal equipment suppliers.
  • Most materials required for the construction of cages and rehabilitation enclosures may be obtained from standard fencing or farm-equipment stores.
Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • Construction of longer-term accommodation requires some expertise.
Cost/ Availability
  • May be expensive – the cost is generally proportional to the strength and durability of construction materials used.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Accommodation for casualty wild animals should be designed to minimise the stress on the animal and to minimise the risk of injury to that animal.
  • A wild animal in captivity is protected under the same welfare legislation as domestic animals, e.g. Protection of Animals Acts 1911-2000; under this legislation it is an offence to treat a captive animal cruelly or to cause it unnecessary suffering.
    • This includes an obligation to provide proper attention and care.
    • The keeper has a duty to keep all wildlife casualties in a fit manner, in accommodation of a size which allows reasonable movement and with an environment suitable for its normal way of life.
    • (J35.147.w1, P19.2.w1, D27, D28)
  • Accommodation which does not fulfil the physiological and psychological requirements of the animal and results in an inadequate level of fitness at the time of release may seriously compromise the survival ability of that animal. Release of an animal which is unfit may be an offence under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960. (J35.147.w1, W5.Jan01)
  • Risks to human health, both physical and risk of zoonotic illness must be minimised: Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.
  • An offence may be committed under article 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 if a species on Schedule 9 of that Act, or a species not ordinarily resident in the UK is allowed to escape from accommodation in which it is being housed.
  • See: Legislation relating to Wildlife Casualties.
Author Debra Bourne
Referee Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman

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