To many, it is seen as a cunning, hen-killing nocturnal visitor and, as such, an animal that has been condemned and persecuted by peasants for centuries. But we should also be grateful for the hunting abilities of this animal. The fox is a pest hunter, largely feeding on mice, rats and pigeons and helping to keep villages and farmland free of some of the most annoying creatures. One study found that a single fox eats 1,000 voles each winter, significantly reducing crop damage. Foxes also spread seeds from the fruit and berries they eat through their droppings, allowing some of our favourite trees to spread and regenerate naturally. All in all, the fox is quite useful, and if we don’t want to lose a hen, we’d better secure our hen houses instead of cursing the fox.