||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
- Foxes are able to move quickly, jump well and climb surprisingly high obstacles.
- Foxes will bite if cornered and care must be taken during catching and handling.
- Ensure carrying cage is ready and open before starting to catch.
- Minimum of two people if possible.
- Try to ensure that all escape routes are blocked or covered.
- Remember that a fox will bite in trying to escape.
- With one person (out of sight) covering the escape route with a long handled net, the
second person can approach the fox from the opposite direction, so it is herded towards
the net. This is then brought down rapidly across the fox's path so that it runs into the
net, which is then held firmly to the ground.
- The second person, if also carrying a net, may be able to bring this down on the fox on
its initial approach.
- Alternatively, set up a "walk-towards" net (one metre wide, several meters
long, similar in appearance to a tennis net) across the escape route and approach the fox
so that it runs into the net.
- Once in a net the fox may be pinned using a soft-headed broom across its neck before
- May be caught using a dog grasper, using just enough pressure to control the fox and
pull it into a position where it can be scruffed (held by the loose skin - scruff -
on the back of the neck).
- Useful for e.g. if the fox is under a shed and otherwise unreachable. (B151)
- Reduces the risk of being bitten. (B199)
- May be possible to lure into a container such as a dark box or a clean sturdy plastic
- The open end may be partially covered with a cloth.
- Herding towards the box with boards may assist, reducing the risk of the fox moving off
to one side.
- Remember that a fox will bite if at all possible. (B151)
- Gauntlets may be advised for handling (D24)
although these may interfere with the hold when scruffing. (B151,
- 1) Once caught in a net, pin the neck with a soft-headed broom, then grasp the scruff.
The fox may then be lifted by the scruff, with the second hand supporting the rump, e.g.
by holding fur over the rump.(B151)
- 2) Once caught with a dog grasper and brought within reach, grasp the scruff. The dog
grasper may be released once the scruff is held firmly. (B151,
- Lift into a suitable carrying cage (preferably with crush facility). (B151)
- If caught in a net, scruff and lift with the net still in place. One in the
cage, shut the lid, letting go of the fox at the last moment, then bring the net out
through as small a gap as possible before fully closing and locking/bolting the lid. (B151)
- Never pick a fox up by the tail. (B151)
Restraint for Examination and Treatment:
- Restraint by the scruff may allow a brief examination.(D24)
- A muzzle such as a bandage muzzle may facilitate a brief examination of a
physically restrained fox. (D24,
- A squeeze cage may be useful, for example to allow intramuscular injection. (D24)
- Sedation with diazepam 1mg/kg intravenous or intramuscular may be useful. (B151)
- General anaesthesia is often required for thorough examination and treatment.
- Combination of intramuscular medetomidine and ketamine is commonly used for general
anaesthesia in small and zoo animal practice in the UK; extrapolation of dose rates for
companion animals from the manufacturers recommendations may be appropriate.
Manufacturer's recommendations for feline general anaesthesia include "[Medetomidine]
Domitor [Pfizer Limited] should be administered at a rate of 80mcg/kg [intramuscular] with
a concomitant dose of 2.5 - 7.5mg/kg [intramuscular] of Vetalar [Pharmacia and Upjohn
Ltd.] or Ketaset [Fort Dodge Animal Health](ketamine)." (B202)
In extrapolating dose rates a number of issues must be remembered:
- higher dose rates may be required for very nervous / excited / agressive animals who may
initially over-ride the effects of anaesthesia
- smaller animals with a higher metabolic rate may require proportionally higher dose
rates; the reverse is also usually true for larger animals
- collapsed, shock and/or dehydrate animals may required lower dose rates
- Sometimes there may be a requirement for additional "top-up" doses of
injectable anaesthetics (V.w6,
and the following should be considered:
- ideally, if a mask can be applied without excessive stress on the animal, masking it
down with either isoflurane or halothane is usually the best option.
- it is not desirable to reach the situation where additional doses are being given
in order to reach initial stable anaesthesia whilst the first drugs are wearing
off. It is all too easy to overdose in this situation. If three
injections are not effective - if possible, it is highly advisable to stop the
procedure, allow the anaesthesia to wear off and then repeat the procedure at a later date
using higher doses initially.
- when increasing dosages, careful consideration should be given both the side-effects of
the drugs and the availability of reversal agents
- If an intravenous injection can be given, it may allow more control over the depth of
- if a top-up dose is required, the following rule of thumb is recommended:
- If there is little effect on the animal after 15 minutes (it is alert and reponsive),
give a second full dose
- If the animal is clearly affected but still active after 15 minutes, give a 3/4 dose.
- If there is some degree of anaethesia, but a deeper level is required, give 1/2 dose.
- Beyond that - use best judgement.
A variety of anaesthetic drugs and protocols have been used
in this species. Suggested protocols for sedation and general anaesthesia include:
- For general anaesthesia the following protocol has been used efficiently and
- Medetomidine (Domitor, Pfizer) 40 µg/kg bodyweight plus ketamine 7.5 mg/kg bodyweight
- Intramuscular injection in a conscious animal may be given while it is being physically
restrained by means of a crush cage or by remote injection e.g. blow-pipe.
- Once administration has taken place the fox should be left in a quiet dark place to
allow the drugs to take effect.
- The effects of medetomidine are normally reversed by injection of the agent atipamezole,
unless otherwise indicated. (V.w5,
- Combination of ketamine with a sedative (e.g. benzodiazepine, alpha-2 agonist) is
generally preferable to the use of ketamine alone. (V.w5,
- Combination of ketamine with a benzodiazepine may be preferable to its combination with
an alpha-2 agonist in sick or collapsed individuals because of the more limited
cardiovascular depression associated with the former agent. (V.w5,
- Isoflurane may be administered carefully by anaesthetic face mask in a collapsed
- Gaseous general anaesthetic agents (such as isoflurane) may be administered by mask to
- Intubation is straightforward and recommended.
- Isoflurane or halothane may be used to prolong [general] anaesthesia following the use
of injectable anaesthetic agents.
- The length of starvation prior to induction of general anaesthesia should be appropriate
for the species in question and the likelihood of regurgitation. Clinical judgement should
be used as to the pros and cons of starvation in an emergency situation.