Humane methods to deter critters are not only kinder, but more effective and cheaper. You likely don’t want to be surprised by a mouse in your house, but there’s no need to harm.
Start with common sense. Keep your house clean, seal up sweet foods (like sugar and molasses) and only buy flour in small amounts (to avoid weevils). Don’t leave empty cans of sweet fizzy drinks around, they will attract ants, wasps & bees. Nearly all creatures only visit your home for warmth and food, so sealing up areas (mice can fit through holes the width of a pencil) avoiding damp (to avoid woodlice and silverfish) will help (open windows ajar if safe to do so, and fix ventilation problems).
Simple Humane Inventions
- See how to humanely deter slugs and snails. This post mentions two inventions: Grazers is a nontoxic calcium spray that can deter rabbits, geese, deer, pigeons by making grass unpalatable (so don’t use for pet rabbits). Molluskit was is a kit made from recycled materials that you slot together.
- Mouse Mesh is a grid that fits outside your wall to deter mice (in a stronger steel version to deter rats). Clean the grid from leaves regularly and never use it near gas vents). The site has full info. Better than cruel glue traps (see how to rescue an animal caught in one). Even humane traps can cause slow deaths if not checked regularly. Most return anyway as they have babies (left to die).
- Fox-A-Gone offer humane tips to deter foxes (they have rescued over 7000). A fox’s main diet is rabbits and rats, so if their habitats are kept safe in the wild, they would not be so common in urban areas. Read why foxes are good for nature.
- Waspinator looks like a brown paper bag, to deter territorial wasps. Avoid citronella sprays/candles near pets.
- Read the post on helping spiders! Most have never been outside and are more scared of you, than you are of them.
- PiCAS offers help to humanely deter pigeons, gulls and other roosting birds. This usually involves harmless ‘bird spikes’ that stop birds landing on buildings and dummy eggs. Their methods are quick, kind, effective and cheaper than lethal control or using birds of prey (which sometimes tear birds to pieces) and used by councils, hospitals.
- Ants are attracted to cans of coke, crumbs and sandwiches (sweet or protein if they have eggs). Outside, they disappear when the weather cools. Anthills aerate the soil and ants provide food for birds, by protecting caterpillars due to sticky honeydew they secrete. Spraying anything will kill them, just grow mint (in a pot so it does not get out of control). Ants dislike the scent, so will move on. Don’t grow mint near cats, see other toxic herbs to avoid near pets.
Books on Humane Control
See plants, flowers & trees to avoid near pets (avoid cocoa/pine/rubber mulch & fresh compost near pets). Use humane safe slug/snail deterrents. Many plants (inc. yew & oak trees) are toxic to equines.
- Living with Urban Wildlife is by the late London expert John Bryant. There’s nothing he did not know to humanely deter wildlife.
- Humane Gardener and Humane Critter Control are packed with info on how to humanely deter creatures. Most use the wisdom of nature.
- 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants is by garden expert Ruth Rogers Clausen who shows annuals, perennials, shrubs, bulbs, grasses and herbs. Many of these flowers are toxic to pets, so see above for ones to avoid. Also see wildlife-friendly fencing alternatives and safer alternatives to netting for wildlife.
Why Foxes Are A Good Part of Nature
Although there are some in society who think it’s fun to kill or chase foxes, in reality they are not vermin or pests. They are a good part of nature, because their main diet is rats and rabbits (sad, but it’s nature). They only venture through people’s dustbins, when their natural habitat is disappearing. And like dogs, they are natural scavengers, so will go for the free easy pickings, if they are around.
It is now illegal to hunt foxes, although some people in government wish for the law to be reversed. There are many charities helping to ensure this does not happen, and if you see any illegal hunting, you can report it to Animal Crimewatch, National Wildlife Crime Unit or Crimestoppers (anonymous). League Against Cruel Sports has information on the fox hunting ban (it’s still legal to hunt foxes in Northern Ireland).
Humane Fox Deterrence
- The Fox Project (South East) is a rescue project that also runs a humane deterrence agency. The site has lots of free info, volunteer opps and books on humane fox deterrence.
- Fox-a-gon is another nationwide humane deterrence service. Again the site has lots of free advice, and you can use their services for more help (more effective/less costly than pest control).
- WeirBags make gull-proof sacks that have a Velcro strap to keep the contents secure from seagulls, but also works for foxes, rats etc. The sacks are emptied into trucks, then returned to you. BigBelly makes public bins for councils that compact waste using a solar panel, and have optional animal latches, to deter gulls, foxes etc from pouring all the bin contents out over the park.
Keeping Hens & Rabbits Safe
- See adopting ex-battery hens to find links to charities that due to their experience, have lots of info (and phone help) on keeping foxes away from chickens and other prey animals. Rabbit Rehome has tips on keeping bunnies safe from foxes.
- The sites also link to companies selling fox-proof hutches and runs. Be aware that many are not usually big enough to give good space and welfare, so read info before purchase.
- If you ‘leave a gap’ in your fence for ‘hedgehog highways’, don’t make it big enough for a fox to get through (he/she will try to find a way, if smelling a prey animal, so see sites above to help protect hens and rabbits). Hedgehogs travel at night, so you could secure the hole during the day, although most foxes are also nocturnal.
Found an Injured or Orphaned Fox?
- Take to the vet or phone your local wildlife rescue. For mange, order free kits from National Fox Welfare Society.
- National Fox Welfare Society runs a rescue service. It always needs volunteers for rescue, fostering and land for safe release.
- The Fox Website is dedicated to rescuing foxes, and has a good site packed with info on everything from ecology to fox rescue. This site owner appears to have a university degree in foxes!
- Tiggywinkles (the world’s busiest wildlife hospital in Buckinghamshire) also has a fox fact sheet. Useful for wildlife rescue centres & vets too.
- Little Foxes (Oxfordshire) is a sanctuary with 15 years experience of caring for foxes and other wildlife. They need volunteers, and appreciate unused medical supplies or roadworthy vehicles.
Fabulous Books on Foxes
- The Hidden World of the Fox will teach you where the fox is going, and what his world is really like. A flash of his brushy tail, a blaze of orange and the strange barks in the city night. Ecologist Adele Brand describes the fox’s astonishing senses, intelligence and behaviour that have allowed them to thrive in ancient woods and concrete car parks. Learn about cubs and how can we live in peace with foxes.
- Foxes Unearthed looks at both sides of the argument. Award-winning writer Lucy Jones speaks to both hunters and saboteurs, and investigates the real world of the fox, away from media stereotypes.
I’ve always loved foxes but my research into their behaviour gave me a renewed sense of respect and awe at what is such a successful predator and carnivore. Foxes are brilliant. Lucy Jones
Don’t Be Scared of Spiders!
Don’t be scared of spiders! We would rarely be harmed in England. If you have one, read up on tarantula welfare as they are complicated to look after – being handled is not liked by most, and can harm in some cases. There are many types of worldwide spiders including bark spiders (spins webs 10 times stronger than Kevlar), jumping spiders (can remember colours), recluse spiders (can live in isolation for up to 6 months) and of course the deadly spiders.
All spiders are arachnids (8 legs rather than 6 like insects) and have even-shaped numbers of eyes, usually 6 or 8 – lots to look at you!
A Web for All Seasons is the tale of a spider, who was bored by spinning webs. She spins webs all day, every day – until one day she declares she is done with spinning. But she soon realises that can’t have any adventures – without spinning! A tale of appreciating one’s gifts.
One study found over 5 million spiders on one hectare of Sussex land, but they won’t harm you and you hardly see them (most ‘balloon past you’ on their silk). Only 5% of house spiders have ever been outside (and can be harmed by a sudden change in temperature – and this leaves spider babies behind – the little white balls). Spiders are nature’s pest-eaters and eat up to 100 flies a night.
- Regular cleaning and vacuuming helps remove ‘stagnant energy’ for less chances of spiders in corners. But if already there, just leave them, they will move on soon (don’t vacuum them up).
- If you have to move a spider, use a humane spider-catcher. The ‘glass and card’ method is an alternative but often reflexes are not quick and you could harm (use card over paper). Move to a spare room or cupboard. If you must move them outside, choose a shed or outbuilding, and take ‘white furry’ babies outside on kitchen towel or card, to keep together. Sudden temperature changes can kill them.
- Spiders don’t come up plugholes, but can’t get out of the bath, so move (as above) or leave a towel on the side of bath.
- Spiders are not attracted to light, but to insects that are. So turn off unnecessary lights, and close/remove anything that could attract flies (bins, open pet food, fruit).
- Daddy long-legs (craneflies) are attracted to light and won’t harm, move them outside gently (using above methods, to protect legs).
- Spiders apparently don’t like citrus rind, lemon-scented cleaners, garlic or conkers. Don’t use citrus near pets, esp. toxic to cats.
- Don’t use on spiders already there. To deter spiders from wing mirrors, spray a mild dilution of water with citrus, peppermint oil (large doses of any oil could harm, and vinegar would kill).
- Cats eat spiders. Vets Now does not encourage this, saying prevention is best by vacuuming/sealing gaps (some cats can have reactions).
- British Arachnological Society can help with ID and removal.
- Real silk is made by boiling silkworms (‘peace silk’ can often leave silkworms to die, after chewing their way out of cocoons). But there are now many vegan silks based on studying how spiders weave their webs. Spider silk is used to trap prey, or escape from predators.
The Not Bad Animals is by Lancashire artist Sophie Corrigan from spiders that make us scream, mice that make us jump on furniture and bats that make us shudder (at the thought of them flapping about our hair). But do they deserve their reputations?
If you want to live and thrive. Let the spider run alive. American Quakers