The Arabian Fox. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Dr. Reza Khan, wildlife expert at Dubai Municipality.

Dubai: Residents living in new areas of Dubai have spotted foxes prowling close to their homes.

The four-legged species, belonging to the dog family, was seen lurking in Jumeirah Park homes on Wednesday, November 6.

In a social media post, a resident of the Jumeirah Park community said she spotted a fox – knows as the Arabian Fox – next to her villa. In her social media post, the resident said she tried to capture a video of the fox walking close to her villa but was unable to record it in time.

It is not uncommon to find a fox lurking near homes in the desert, says Dr. Khan. Image Credit: Dr. Reza Khan, wildlife expert at Dubai Municipality

In response to her post, another resident in the community also said she saw a fox prowling around recently.

In an emailed statement to Gulf News, a spokesperson for Nakheel said: “Foxes are part of the UAE eco-system. Sightings in communities are rare, but they can happen anywhere in Dubai. While foxes are harmless to humans, we advise anyone who sees one to contact the Dubai Municipality, the appointed authority to handle such matters, if they are concerned.”

Commenting on the recent sightings, a Dubai Municipality official told Gulf News said it is not uncommon to find a fox lurking near houses, especially those located close to the desert area.

“Spotting a fox in areas close to a desert is normal. We have spotted foxes in Al Warqa’a and new Dubai areas previously. They come looking for food, but they don’t attack humans, so residents need not worry,” said Dr. Reza Khan, a wildlife expert working at Dubai Municipality.

He also urged residents who come across such animals to call Dubai Municipality’s toll-free number 800900 and arrange a rescue for these animals.

Image Credit: Dr. Reza Khan, a wildlife expert at Dubai Municipality.

Other fox sightings

Previously, there have been fox sightings in other communities in Al Warqa’a, Jebel Ali and again in new Dubai residential communities. Many residents in these areas said they feared for their lives when they spotted these animals, and people who saw these animals during their night walks said they have since stopped for fear of being attacked.

“I have seen a fox almost daily, mostly under a tree, near the playground in The Gardens. I find it intimidating. The presence of a wild animal in a residential neighbourhood is a matter of concern,” a resident told Gulf News in an earlier interview back in 2017.

After spotting the fox a few times, the resident informed security guards to take care of the issue.

All you need to know about foxes in the UAE

Following the recent sightings, we asked Dr. Khan to give us a low down on foxes in the UAE. Here is a small guide on all you need to know about these animals.

Types of foxes in the UAE

Image Credit: Dr. Reza Khan, Dubai Municipality.

There are four species of foxes in the UAE. The most common of them is the Arabian Red Fox or Arabian Fox [zoological name - vulpes vulpes Arabica].

The second type of fox is the Blanford’s Fox which usually lives in and around hilly areas. “They don’t live in plains or city centres, but in hilly regions,” said Dr. Khan.

The Ruppell’s Fox is another species but is rarely seen in farming areas close to the desert. They are not usually seen in cities or towns. The fourth species spotted in the UAE is the Sand Fox. “They are very rare to find. There have been very few sightings from the desert in Abu Dhabi, close to the Saudi border.”

What do you do when you spot a fox

Leave it alone, said Dr. Khan.

Jumeirah Islands resident spots an Arabian Fox right in the backyard of her villa Image Credit: SUPPLIED

Where can you find them?

They can be found close to trash cans. You could find a lone fox or a bunch of them as a family; the mother, father and pups. “They [the foxes] can be found visiting garbage bins at night when most people are at home in bed.”

Are foxes dangerous?

“Generally, no,” said Dr. Khan.

“But in case anybody receives an unlucky bite from a fox (as well as stray dogs and cats) he or she must go to hospital, and probably will need an anti-rabies injection, if not taken such an injection in the past. This is because all foxes, all stray cats, wild cats (tiger, lion and others), all omnivores like foxes, civets, bears; all monkeys and almost all bats carry the virus for the Rabies!!! So, anybody receiving a bite from these animals are likely to get rabies that can kill a person if antirabies vaccine have not been injected at the right time.

“However as far as I am concerned, we humans have been unharmed by foxes in the UAE. Generally, foxes are afraid of people and avoid going near them.”

Do foxes attack?

Image Credit: Dr. Reza Khan, Dubai Municipality.

Those affected by rabies – called the rabid foxes – do attack. However there have been no incidences of a rabid fox in the UAE.

How can you tell if a fox is rabid?

1. Partial paralysis or the inability to use their limbs well.

2. Circling or staggering as if drunk.

3. Self-mutilation.

4. Acting aggressively for no reason.

5. Acting unnaturally tame.

How to keep foxes away from your homes?

Keep your environment clean. Also your neighbourhood should be clean. The garbage bins need to be cleared regularly.