A wildlife worker has offered some handy hints on keeping noisy foxes at bay, after residents complained of being plagued by the howling animals.

Veronica Mepham, who runs the Rescuers Wildlife Sanctuary, in Benfleet, said there were plenty of quick and easy ways to banish burrowing foxes from back gardens.

She said: "Unfortunately, for a few weeks of the year, this happens due to their breeding. But too many people leave their rubbish out overnight, then wonder why it has been ripped open in the morning."

Mrs Mepham suggested householders chop up strong-smelling vegetables such as onions or garlic to spread around the perimeter of their garden to ward off further furry invaders.

Other tips included soaking cigarette butts in a bucket and pouring the water on the grass, and - for the less shy - leaving small samples of urine on the ground to mark territory.

Mrs Mepham said she had seen some terrible cases of foxes either being hit by cars or caught by strimmers because they were too close to people's gardens.

She added: "All these things do work. The smell is absolutely foul and foxes don't like to cross a bad smell. But we do live in an area of green belt where badgers and foxes have lived for generations. It is a matter of getting used to it."

For information you can call 01268 752923.