Where possums live
The Common Brushtail possum makes its den in a tree hollow, under natural conditions. In urban areas, it adopts the space in house roofs for daytime shelter since there are few tree hollows remaining. The Common Ringtail possum usually builds a nest or 'drey' of twigs and leaves, in dense foliage a few metres above the ground. It seldom enters house roofs.
Food for urban possums
Leaves, flowers and fruits of a wide variety of native and exotic trees and shrubs are eaten by both species of possum. The Common Brushtail possum may also eat insects and meat. Possums do not need food provided by humans. Such food can cause a dietary imbalance. Possums which rely on your food supply may be unable to find enough natural food if you stop feeding them.
How to live with possums
(1) Block access to your roof by:
*placing collars made from sheet iron, 60 cm wide and 60 cm above the ground, around the trunks of all trees giving access to the roof. Collars may also be used to keep possums our of fruit trees.
*lopping branches which lead to the roof.
(2) Make or buy a nest box and install it in your garden as an alternate den site for the possum. Possums are territorial. If one adopts the nest box, it is likely to keep others away from your garden (and roof).
(3) Block all known entrance points once possums have left your roof, and wipe around entrance points with household bleach to remove possum scent.
(4) Ornamental plants or fruit being eaten by possum may be protected by placing blood and bone fertiliser around the base of plants or by making a solution of hot english mustard (mustard powder and water) which can be sprayed on the affected fruits or foliage.
Trapping and removal of possum is not recommended
*it seldom solves the problem, since another possum usually moves in to occupy the vacated territory and den site in your roof.
*released possums may displace other wildlife, such as owls or gliders, from hollows.
*released possums are at high risk of being killed by cars, foxes or dogs, or battle with the local possums for a den site. Possums are protected, like all other native animals under the Wildlife Act 1975. They must not be harmed in any way.
If you decide to have a possum removed from your roof, contact WIRES. A volunteer will set up a possum trap then, once caught it is up to you to block all entry points.
Courtesy of the Department of Conservation & Environment.