The Agriculture Ministry has stepped in to set the record straight on foxes, noting that a number of myths surrounding the animal were unfounded.
It said that in view of of the debate taking place in the last few days on social media following the release of two young foxes rescued a few months ago, it wanted to address five common myths about foxes:
Myth 1: The fox is a sneaky and vicious animal
From the time of Aesop, the fox in myths and fairy tales is presented as a cunning and evil animal, which fools its prey in various ways. This perception is nothing but a myth. Foxes belong to the canine family and have many similar characteristics to dogs. They are animals with high intelligence and raise their little ones with love and care. As opposed to dogs and wolves, the fox remains with the same mate for the rest of her life, while both parents are involved in the care of their little ones.
Myth 2: Foxes kill more animals than they need for food
In fact, the fox doesn’t kill animals unnecessarily. This would be a waste of energy and against the laws of nature. Sometimes, if an opportunity presents itself, it may kill more animals than its immediate needs for food, which its buries in the ground to dig up in days or times where there is not enough food (for example in winter). It is a survival tactic, implemented by other carnivorous animals.
For the above reason, animals such as chickens and rabbits must be kept in suitably fenced areas which are inaccessible to foxes.
Myth 3: The fox is a dangerous animal that can attack man. Also, foxes carry rabies.
In fact, in Cyprus no case of rabies has been identified since the 1930. In addition, foxes have an instinctive fear of man. They don’t like to get close to them and usually run away. Like dogs, they can show aggression to protect themselves when they are under attack.
In rare cases, the fox may approach homes because it has combined man with food (e.g. garbage). To get the fox to leave all we need to do is make noise (beat our hands or shout out loud).
Myth 4: The main food of the fox is game such as partridges and hares and foxes are a disaster for game.
In fact, the fox is a omnivore mammal that feeds mainly on rodents (ferrets and mice), insects, fruit, dead animals, and also other small mammals and birds. The fox will not waste energy to hunt animals which are difficult to capture, but will be content itself with easy prey
Attacks on partridges which are raised for hunting can occur if they are not well fenced in. Foxes may also feed on newly released partridges if they have not developed the wild instinct, since they have grown in captivity and are easy prey.
Myth 5: the fox was brought to Cyprus by the British for fox hunting and it does not belong to Cyprus’ ecosystem.
The truth is that the fox has existed in Cyprus for many thousand years. Remains of foxes have been found in neolithic settlements in several areas of Cyprus, which prove that the species has a long history on the island and definitely beyond 10,000 years.