Do Foxes Eat Bonsai Trees? (species, toxicity)


Do foxes eat bonsai trees?

So a few days ago I heard a strange noise coming from my garden only to realize that I had a small fox rummaging around. Now I keep my bonsai trees in a small garden nursery. This got me thinking, Do foxes eat bonsai trees? 

Foxes will not eat bonsai trees. This is because foxes are most commonly carnivores. Foxes however have been known to sometimes eat fruit such as apples or oranges meaning any bonsai species that bear fruit could be at risk. 

So what should you do if you find a fox eating the fruit on your bonsai tree? And are bonsai trees toxic to foxes? Keep reading to find out more!

Do foxes eat bonsai trees? 

Whilst us bonsai owners have to deal with many pests such as aphids, spider mites, caterpillars, and scale attacking and eating our bonsai trees. It’s rare to hear about larger mammals eating bonsai. 

But is this true? 

I visited my local garden center, spoke to a local vet, and asked 10 plant paladin readers their experience with foxes and bonsai, and here were my findings: 

  • Foxes will not typically eat bonsai trees 
  • This is because most foxes’ diets consist of meat-based foods such as small rodents and birds. 
  • That being said, foxes have been known to eat fruits such as apples. Oranges, berries, and limes. 
  • This means if you have a fruiting bonsai, foxes may consume the fruit of your tree. 
  • Due to a fox’s size if they do eat the fruit of your bonsai they can cause additional harm to your tree. 
  • Foxes may also feed on any insects such as caterpillars that are nesting in your tree. 
  • Should a fox eat the fruit of your bonsai, it will typically do this during the night as foxes are nocturnal animals
  • As foxes come from the canine or dog family, bonsai trees can prove toxic to foxes. 

How to avoid foxes eating bonsai trees? 

So if you do find that foxes have been rummaging around, attacking, and eating the fruit of your bonsai trees there are a few things you can do to prevent this. 

To stop foxes from eating and attacking your bonsai trees, keep them indoors overnight in a secure location. Avoid keeping bonsai trees that fruit and remove any potential prey such as small insects or rodents from your tree. 

Let’s explore this in more detail. 

Keep your bonsai indoors 

Foxes like to stay outdoors, often nesting in burrows or around trees. 

Rarely, foxes venture indoors. 

As such a surefire way to avoid foxes from damaging or eating your bonsai would simply be to keep them indoors. 

Now I would recommend only moving your bonsai tree indoors during the night when foxes go out to scavenge and hunt for food. 

This way you will ensure that your bonsai tree gets enough sunlight during the day. 

Alternatively, I’d recommend keeping a bonsai that can be kept indoors such as ficus or Chinese elms species. 

Avoid fruiting bonsai

Foxes won’t usually eat the leaves, bark, or branches of a bonsai, instead opting for the fruit of the tree. 

One of the best ways then to avoid foxes from damaging your tree is to avoid keeping bonsai species that bear fruit. 

Lemon, apple, orange, crabapple, and lime bonsai species are all commonly found when keeping bonsai trees so I would avoid these species to prevent both foxes and other pests from being attracted to your trees. 

Keep your trash locked away 

Foxes are scavengers, and so will often look for the easiest food source they can find. 

They are often attracted to the smell of off and rotten foods, and it’s not uncommon to find foxes rummaging around rubbish bins to find food. 

As such, ensure that you keep your rubbish locked away. 

Now, this all relates to bonsai trees as if you have trash lying around in your garden, or unsecured in trash cans then this will attract foxes to your garden. 

As foxes are opportune hunters, if they see a bonsai tree in the same location as trash, then they will eat the fruit on your tree. 

Remove prey from your bonsai

A lot of insects and mammals alike are often found residing near or feeding on bonsai trees. 

These include: 

Sadly, a lot of these species often make up a fox’s diet. 

As such, to prevent foxes from eating these animals and damaging your bonsai, you need to remove them. 

Luckily, I’ve written posts on all of these – just simply click on the links above. 

how to remove bugs from bonsai tree - infographic

When do foxes eat bonsai? 

Foxes will typically eat the fruit of bonsai trees during the night. This is because foxes are nocturnal animals. Foxes may also feed on any insects or animals that reside in or near your bonsai such as small insects or slugs. 

What bonsai species attract foxes? 

Bonsai species that bear fruit such as lime, lemon, apple, orange, and crab apple will be the most attractive to foxes. This is because foxes will actively eat these fruits. Foxes will avoid bonsai trees such as Chinese elm or ficus species that do not bear fruit. 

Are bonsai trees toxic to foxes? 

Bonsai trees or more specifically, the leaves, bark branches, and roots of bonsai are toxic to most foxes. This is because foxes are part of the canine family. Sago palms and Azaleas in particular can be fatal to foxes. 

The most common side effects foxes will feel should they eat these parts of a bonsai tree include: 

  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Drooling 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal pain 

What bonsai species are toxic to foxes? 

Now to help explain what bonsai tree species are toxic to focus I’ve come up with the table below: 

Bonsai Species  Degree of Severity 
Azalea Severe
Sago Palm  Severe 
Ficus Moderate
Jade  Moderate
Cherry Moderate
Apricot Moderate
Boxwood Moderate
Giant Dracaena Severe
Fig Moderate
Umbrella trees Moderate
Chinese Elm  Mild 
Juniper Mild 
Maple  Mild
Fukien Tea Mild
Wisteria Moderate 
Cotoneaster Moderate 

I’d also recommend checking out my post on if bonsai trees are toxic to dogs for a full breakdown

are bonsai trees poisonous to dogs - infographic

How much damage will foxes cause to bonsai? 

Foxes will cause a large amount of damage to bonsai trees. Foxes will often eat the fruit of bonsai and also engage in other dog-like behavior such as urinating on a bonsai and digging up bonsai topsoil. 

To avoid this, ensure you keep your bonsai tree out of reach of foxes. 

Foxes can jump up to 3 feet high so ensure if you keep a bonsai bench it is higher than this. 

I’d also avoid keeping smaller-sized bonsai, or bonsai made from cuttings – the smaller a bonsai tree the easier it will be to break by a fox. 

Do foxes eat bonsai trees – Study? 

So I didn’t want to just give my findings but wanted to get in touch with a few professionals and asked them if foxes eat bonsai.  trees. 

First I got in touch with my local botanical gardens who have a bonsai collection

I asked them on a recent visit if they have had any trouble with foxes: 

“We have not experienced any problems with foxes attacking or eating our bonsai” 

I also did a quick survey of ten plant paladin readers and asked them if they have had any trouble with foxes and their bonsai. 

Here were the results: 

Do foxes eat bonsai trees - survey results

As you can see, bonsai getting eaten by foxes does not seem like a major issue a lot of you will face. 

Now a lot of you reading this will be new to bonsai so I would recommend checking out the following posts: 

This post was written by Fehed Nicass who has been passionate about bonsai for over 2 years. He currently resides in the UK and works in sales.

Fehed Nicass

Fehed Nicass has been passionate about all things bonsai and botany focused for the past 3 years. What started out as a hobby has developed as a passion and he is now on a mission to teach and learn.

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