Foxes in big cities are no longer rare. In Berlin, there is an original hiding place for a small animal. There is more and more.
Foxes are no longer a rare sight in big cities. In the meantime, wild animals can be found almost everywhere and look for the strangest hiding places. They got lost in the way of the authorities, got on the bus or sat on the roof – as the recent incident in Berlin-Charlottenburg proved. But why are wild animals pulled out of the forests into the big cities at all?
Foxes hide where humans can’t find them
In Berlin, a small fox got lost on the roof of a house. According to the police, residents discovered the animal on the balcony in the morning hours. From there the fox escaped to the surface. It is not uncommon for people to encounter wildlife in cities. On the contrary: encounters are increasing. More and more foxes are moving from the forests to big cities or islands of the North Sea such as Sylt or Norderney. Sophia Kemmig knows that places like the meadow in front of the Berlin Reichstag building are especially popular at dusk. For several years she has taught city animal life at the Leibniz Institute for Research in Animals and Wildlife (IZW) in Forschungsverbund Berlin eV
“It can also happen that a fox is sitting on a picnic blanket in the botanical garden,” says the wildlife biologist Berlin newspaper. Some specimens are even known to Berliners by name – such as Fuchs “Theo”, who settled in the garden of Bellevue Palace. The Instagram community has previously been eager to find a name. On the other hand, another fox prefers to take the bus through the city.
Foxes in the City – Continuing Settlement
It is no different in other major German cities. There, the colonization of red-haired survivors is progressing more and more. Foxes are more common in urban areas than species that live in the wild. Sophia Kimmig explains: “In Munich-Schwabing, for example, the density of foxes is 10 to 15 times higher than that of foxes in the Bavarian forests.” In rural Germany, there are on average 0.5 to 1.5 foxes per square kilometer. The golden jackal also made its home in Baden-Württemberg.
Foxes in the city – animals find a lot of food there
Foxes find a lot of food in cities. This is one of the reasons why they are more attracted to it. The diet of wild animals includes:
- Fruit falling from the garden
- a waste of people
“In the city, foxes are more collectors than hunters,” explains Dirk Ehlert, a wildlife expert with the ecology department of the Berlin Senate. Aside from the food supply, large cities offer another advantage: the heterogeneous structure as habitat. “A fox does not necessarily need a lot of green space, but above all it needs places to retreat, such as wastelands and fenced areas. Sophia Kimmig explains that foxes are very adept at finding places in the city that we humans do not live in. However, in Bergheim, , the fox cub urgently needs help from people because it roams the streets alone.
However, they often misjudge the risks. “Pedestrians seem more threatening than a car,” says the wildlife expert. Places with heavy traffic, such as roads or railways, appear safe for them. Sophia Kimmig laments: “They often pay for it with their lives.” So many animals do not reach an actual life expectancy of eight to nine years. Instead, they only live for a year or two.
Foxes in the city – “For 30 years no fox tapeworm has been discovered”
Even if graceful, amber-eyed animals seem intimidating to some people, they do not pose any danger. “For 30 years, no fox tapeworm has been detected in Berlin. And we have had no rabies in the city for several decades”, confirms Dirk Ehlert. A wildlife expert knows from experience: Problematic incidents are extremely rare. “I can count on one hand the cases I’ve known over the past 20 years, and they all stem from human error.”