After reports from a very frustrated member of our team who lives in Swanley about frequently finding deflated tyres on her car, we thought it was time to investigate. So, after donning our best Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat, we opened our trusty notebook and began taking notes…

As it turns out, it wasn’t just our team member who’d been having this tyre problem, several of her neighbours had also fallen victim to the flat tyre phenomenon too. Local rumours were rife with speculative tales of a phantom tyre slasher who lurked in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on their next victim’s car in the dead of night. Others told tales of local tyre garages trying to drum up a bit of extra business. There were even unlikely reports of local foxes nibbling on the rubber just for fun!

Beyond reasonable doubt?

As any would-be sleuth will know, the UK legal system requires evidence to be “beyond a reasonable doubt” to convince a jury of its voracity. In other words, it means that the evidence presented is so convincing that there’s no reasonable doubt that it could be wrong.

Let’s try and apply the same logic here.

Exhibit 1 – Video evidence

At this point, it seems pertinent to remind our readers of the famous Holmes quote:

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

And, as improbable as it sounds, maybe the local foxes really are to blame. In fact, one of the best examples of a fox biting a car tyre can be seen in a January 2023 article on the ITV News website. As you can see here, the fox is clearly guilty as charged, being caught in the act red-handed!

Coincidentally, our team member had also told us that a few of her neighbours had also decided to install CCTV cameras outside their homes to catch the culprit on camera. She later confirmed that they had indeed reported the exact same phenomenon happening to them; namely, that foxes were the culprits. There have also been reports of similar incidents in Dartford and also further afield in Sutton, Surrey too.

Why do foxes bite car tyres?

  1. The animal fat theory – Although car tyres traditionally don’t contain animal fat as a primary component, some tyre manufacturers might use a substance called stearic acid which can be derived from animal fat and is used as a vulcanization agent (vulcanization is the process of adding sulfur to rubber and heating it to improve its durability and elasticity properties). Stearic acid can also be produced from plant sources like palm oil or coconut oil, with the faint aroma still being appealing to a hungry fox. The same applies to wires and cables that are accessible from underneath the car and are coated in animal fat derivatives to seal them
  2. Other appealing smells or tastes – Car tyres pick can pick up various scents from the environments they travel through. For example, it might be the taste of road salts, antifreeze, or other chemicals that the fox finds attractive. It could even be the smell of an animal that the tyre has recently run over.
  3. Teething – Just like puppies, young foxes also go through a teething phase, meaning that chewing a tyre can help alleviate discomfort.
  4. Territorial behaviour – Foxes may bite tyres as another way (aside from urinating) of marking their territory. They have glands in their mouths so biting a tyre could leave a scent mark.

An urban fox roaming the streets at night

How can you stop foxes from biting and puncturing your car tyres?

There’s no doubt that constantly having to replace your tyres is not only frustrating, it’s also time-consuming and expensive. With this in mind, here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Repellents – There are various fox repellents available on the market. You can spray or sprinkle these around the area where you park your car and also directly onto the tyres. Remember to reapply frequently, especially after rain. This is a favoured solution if you don’t have a drive or parking space.
  2. Motion-activated lights – Foxes are naturally wary of sudden changes in light. Installing motion-activated lights in your driveway or parking space might startle and deter them.
  3. Motion-activated sprinklers – These can serve as a deterrent by surprising the fox with a burst of water when they approach the vehicle.
  4. Ultrasonic devices – These emit a high-pitched sound that’s unpleasant for foxes but often inaudible to humans.
  5. Secure your rubbish bin – Foxes are often attracted to areas with accessible food. Ensure that your black bags are securely tied and placed in a bin to avoid attracting them to your property.
  6. Physical barriers – A fence or a wall, if feasible, can help keep foxes out. However, foxes are good climbers and diggers, so the fence should be deep enough underground and tall enough to deter them.
  7. Parking location – If possible, park your car in a garage or another enclosed space overnight.
  8. Protective covers – Using a car cover can deter foxes from getting to the tires directly and might make the vehicle less appealing to them.
  9. Avoid food spills – Make sure there’s no food residue in or around your car, as this could attract foxes.

Case closed

So there you have it. If you were in any doubt as to why you and your neighbours are falling victim to this type of incident, chances are “It was the foxes what done it guv!”.

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