LETS ENJOY LIFE - TAG CONSULTING ARBOR PRACTICE


Somewhere... a possum

At night they emerge from their dens and dreys and crisscross their suburban territories in search of food
—over rooftops, through treetops, and along powerlines and fences—avoiding the ground where they risk dog attack or being hit by a car.

By taking a few simple steps, like possum proofing your home (and even providing a nest box), brushtail possums can become a harmless, welcome sight; and living proof that people and wildlife can be good neighbours.

Understanding possums

Ringtail possum in urban setting.Brushtail possum in urban setting.
The two commonly encountered species of possum are the common brushtail possum and the common ringtail possum. In wetter, higher altitude areas of south-east Queensland, a third species, the mountain brushtail possum occurs and can be distinguished from the common brushtail by its shorter rounded ears and, when found in rainforest it has a coat of black fur.













Ringtail possum in urban setting.












Brushtail possum in urban setting.

In the wet tropics several other species of ringtail possum can also be found including the Herbert River ringtail, the emblem of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

Possums each live within a home range. Home ranges of males and females overlap and common ringtail possums can form male–female bonds that last between breeding seasons. Common brushtail possums can form territories but usually rely on vocalisation and scent to establish den ownership and avoid any close and sometimes aggressive contact with neighbouring possums.

Availability of den sites is a critical factor limiting the number of possums in an area and, with few mature trees with hollow branches left in suburban areas, brushtail possums have adapted by moving into the ceilings of our homes.

Available dens are fully occupied by adult possums and a possum without a den will not survive. This means that as juvenile possums become independent and disperse, many will die from being unable to establish a home range. It also means that if a possum is removed from an area another one will soon fill the available den.

Ringtail possums nest in a ball of sticks known as a drey that is woven together in the branches of a tree. Ringtail possums will build a number of dreys within a home range so that if one is accidentally destroyed they will move to another. The immediate threat to the possum is harassment from crows and noisy miners if an occupied drey is destroyed during the day and the possum can’t find shelter.

Possums are usually solitary. Where two possums are seen together it is usually a mother and joey. Ringtail possums often have twins.

In urban areas, natural predation has largely been replaced by vehicle mortality and attacks by dogs and cats. In spite of this and the natural habitat destruction that takes place as part of urban development, possums are still found in inner city areas and are common in many suburbs.

Living with possums

What noise does it make?

If there’s more than one animal in your roof they are likely to be fighting over a territory or mating. In either case the noise made will help you to guess the size of the animal. Rats and possums will both squeal when fighting (or mating) with the rat’s squeal being higher pitched.

Has it made a nest?

Brushtail possums may have a nest of leaves in your ceiling but will just as happily do without, or bed down on ceiling insulation. Rats usually build small nests in sheltered locations, often on the ground, and line them with shredded paper, rags or dry plant material. Ringtail possums create a ball of woven twigs within the canopy of a tree (sometimes only a few metres above the ground). In the wild, brushtail possums simply curl up in a sheltered cavity like a tree hollow, sometimes lining it with leaves.















A ringtail possum nest known as a drey.

Brushtail possums may have a nest of leaves in your ceiling but will just as happily do without, or bed down on ceiling insulation. Rats usually build small nests in sheltered locations, often on the ground, and line them with shredded paper, rags or dry plant material. Ringtail possums create a ball of woven twigs within the canopy of a tree (sometimes only a few metres above the ground). In the wild, brushtail possums simply curl up in a sheltered cavity like a tree hollow, sometimes lining it with leaves.

Removing possums

Possums are protected wildlife and their removal can only be carried out by licensed commercial possum relocators (relocators can be found in the Yellow Pages under ‘Possum removal’). Having a possum removed is not a ‘quick fix’. If the vacated den site is not sealed off it will simply be reoccupied (relocators usually block off any access points then set a cage trap in the ceiling to remove the possum from the roof and release it outside). You may also want to put up a nest box to provide a new home for the possum. Ask your possum relocator to seal off all the entry points to your roof space and install a nest box while they are there.

A Standard Banned possum guard kit comes in two sizes and includes the following: 
(All you then need is a cordless drill, tape measure and a stanely knife.)



COMPLETE KIT INCLUDES:
  • Clear roll sheeting
  • Galvanised joining strips
  • Screws
  • As easy as 1,2,3
  • All you need is a battery drill, tape measure and scissors.

SPECIFICATIONS
  • Dimensions 500mm or 930mm high x 20m roll.
  • Clear material – Natural trunk colour shows through.
  • Durable ultraviolet-resistant polymer.
  • Galvanized joining strips.