When Possums Become a Problem in Residential Properties

Red roof blog cover image

Possums are iconic Australian fauna, along with kangaroos and koalas. There are 23 possum species in Australia, but there are two common species that you’d likely come across: the Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecular) and the Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus).

These marsupials are nocturnal, resting during the day and only going out to feed between dusk and dawn. They are agile like Spiderman, with the ability to climb walls and leap from tree to roof up to 4 metres away. It’s also not uncommon to see possums traipsing along power lines and perched on small branches.

They are mainly plant-eaters and are especially attracted to home gardens. Possums love fruits, vegetables and native tree species such as eucalyptus.

Possums are tree-dwellers and their natural habitats are rain forests, eucalypt forests and wooded garden areas and shrubs with thick vegetation close to a water source. But due to many factors such as the loss of habitat, human encroachment and urbanisation, it’s not uncommon for these cute furry animals to set up house in roofs, garages, sheds and chimneys. With their claws, they can easily wrench roof tiles and squeeze through tiny holes.

Possums In Your roof

Possums are wild but not aggressive. However, they can be a pest as they can eat their way through one’s garden and leave the roof and ceiling destroyed once they set up shelter in there.

You’d know that you have possums living with you when you when there is loud thumping on the roof or ceiling at night as they scamper to and fro, hissing or coughing sounds, and marks or an intense aroma of ammonia caused by their urine.

Possums and The Law

Possums abound in mainland Australia, Tasmania, and Kangaroo Island, despite the presence of feral animals, the occurrence of bush fires and other natural possum population controls.

In Tasmania, possum control is allowed by law in order to protect crops and promote the commercial trade of skin and meat. But in the rest of the country, there are strict laws that must be followed for relocating and trapping them.

Possums are protected wildlife for varied reasons, two of which are: (1) most possums that are moved will not survive the attacks from other animals and other possums before they can find a new territory; and (2) possums use scent to mark their territory; another possum would find out the vacant territory and would just take its place. It just becomes a vicious cycle.

So, if you find yourself with an annoying and destructive backyard or rooftop dweller, it’s best to find out about legislation specific to possum in your area.

What To Do If There Is A Possum In Your Roof

If you have a possum in your backyard and is not causing any trouble, leave it be. Take this opportunity to enjoy seeing a cute, furry animal up close and personal. But not too close as possums are still wild creatures after all.

But if your furry buddy needs to be evicted, here is what you can do: trim trees so it’s not anywhere near the roofline. This would prevent possums from accessing the roof from the tree. Also, hire a roofer to check if there are tiny holes where possums can squeeze themselves into. Close these holes, if there are any.

Here are other things you can do to deal with possums in your roof:

No Permit Required

Provide an alternative place for the possums in another part of your property by building a possum box that they can use as a shelter.
Remove access through the roof by closing entry points with the use of timber or chicken mesh. Do this when you’re sure the possum has left. Deter re-invasion by destroying scent marks using bleach.
Let possums leave the roof space but not return by installing a one-way door, which can be made of metal or Perspex, with a hinged top.

Permit Required

Capture and remove the possum from the roof space using a possum trap. The permit can be obtained from your local Department for Environment and Heritage office. You can get traps from a wildlife rescue service or pest control company.

If you catch a possum, you have to release it within 24 hours and you must do it at dusk. Possums must also not be moved more than 50 metres away from where it was caught.

Hire A Possum Removal Service

If you can’t carry out the eviction yourself, hire a professional possum trapper that is licensed by the Office of Environment and Heritage.