Removal and Prevention Once a possum has taken up residence in your home, you have little choice but to live with it, or remove it from the entire area. We now know that they will return to their home unless taken a substantial distance away. Because possums are territorial, relocation is not always successful. Relocated possums often die a slow death due to injury sustained during fights with other territorial possums, or starvation due to deprivation of food source. Because of this, relocating possums is illegal.
Possums love all fruit and vegetables as well as many plants, including gardenias, fuschias and their favourite, roses. Once they get a taste for these flowers it is difficult to stop them.
Here are some suggestions to help you deter possums from your property:
- Prune branches that touch or overhang your roof. If this is not possible, fit a metal collar around the trees to prevent possums from being able to grip the tree trunks.
- If the possums are using the powerlines, attach an 80cm diameter disc over the wires close to the building.
- Remove the scent left by the territorial possums by washing the entry point with a bleach solution.
- Keep up with general maintenance. Ensure that there are no loose tiles, loose sheets of roof iron or gaps in the eaves. Block up holes in brickwork or woodwork. Some chemicals are suggested, these being naphthalene, or POSS-OFF (a natural possum deterrent), or you could try garlic, cloves, camphor, citronella oil, Quassia spray or chips, mosquito coils or one of the other brands of possum deterrents available at your garden centre or hardware store.
- Possums are nocturnal, a bright light shone into the roof space during the day may deter them, and a bright light during the night will send them out into the yard, with the added bonus what you be able to easily see their entry point.
- Party lights or a spot light shone on your roses or other plants for a few nights will discourage possums from eating them.
- Sheet metal collars around the trunks of the trees may help.
- If practical, unsupported floppy fencing erected on top of existing fencing will deter possums.
- Blood and Bone, spread around the base of plants may help.
- The creation of a wooden nesting box may deter possums from your roof space, and the provision of fruit on a feeding shelf several times a week may keep them away from your other plants. This allows you to live in harmony with the possums and enjoy watching them.
- Should a possum become stuck inside a chimney, a pest consultant may assist it to escape by dangling a rope down the cavity.
- A possum trapped inside may be encouraged to leave by opening a door or window and gently coaxing it outside.
- If all else fails, possums may be caught in a wire cage-type trap. These are often available for hire from some councils and pet shops. Chopped fruit, bread and honey, or even a rag sprinkled with aniseed essence will lure the possum into the trap. Once the possum is removed, all entry points must be sealed.
- Remember, it is illegal to handle possums unless they are in your roof, home or other type of building.
- must be released within 50 metres of where they were caught.
Could I have possums in my roof?
- Possums have readily adapted to the urban environment. They are nocturnal, and so identification of possums is normally done by observing the evidence they leave behind.
- Possums are messy foragers often leaving the ground cluttered with half-eaten flowers, leaves or fruit. Rose buds are a favourite.
- Small branches at the top of trees can be broken, and often claw marks are visible on the trunks and branches of the trees.
- Possum droppings may be seen. They are usually about 2.5cm long and are covered with a slimy film when fresh.
- Possums are territorial, marking their territory with secretions from glands on their rump and also their chests. They will fight to defend their territory often making a great deal of noise or leaving clumps of fur on the ground.
- Breeding can occur throughout the year although it peaks in spring and autumn. Although the females have two teats, they usually only carry one young.
- Possums generally live in hollows of a tree, but once living in an urban area, they will often utilise an artificial site. This could be a root cavity or some similar space offering any warmth. This can cause many problems.
Effects of Possum residents
As opposed to the scratching and light scampering of rats, possums thump around in the roof cavity, communicating with hisses, growls, screeches and cough-type sounds.
Possums will at times nest in wall cavities or chimneys. They are well able to get in and out without getting trapped.
Possums will cause a lot of damage if cornered and while attempting to escape.
Droppings from possums can find their way into rainwater tanks causing contamination.
If a possum urinates in the ceiling or inside the wall cavities, large dark stains can appear.
A dead possum in a ceiling will create an overpowering stench. The only way to remove the smell is to remove the dead body and then place a rag soaked in Nil Odour over the site. Similarly, sprinkle Orris Root powder over the site.
Occasionally in much the same way as cats do, possums will upset the neighbourhood dogs.
Damage to gardens
Damage to plants results from the pleasure possums gain from eating the many types of plants we have growing in our urban gardens.
By allowing possums to remain on your premises, you also expose your neighbours to the damage and problems they cause.
I have Possums in my roof, what should I do?
While it is possible to deter possums, it is impossible to completely possum-proof your property. The only way to adequately handle the situation is to remove the possum from the premises. This is best done by a pest consultant.