Living with Possums and Gliders

(adapted from NSW Office of Environment & Heritage article)

Living with Possums:

Due to habitat loss, possums sometimes resort to living in roofs or chimneys of houses, garages or sheds. If a possum has made its home in your roof, follow these steps to remove the possum and ensure that it does not return.

  1. Provide an alternative home for the possum by constructing a sturdy, weatherproof box. See below “How to Make Possum Box”.

Securely fix the possum box to a tree in or near your yard. Place it at least 4 metres from the ground so the possum will be out of reach of domestic cats and dogs.

  1. Where possible, get inside your roof and locate the possum’s nest. The nest, which has the scent of the possum, should be placed in the new possum box to encourage the possum to its new home.
  2. To encourage the possum to investigate its new home, put half an apple, banana or a cob of corn in or near the possum box.
  3. Trim any branches that overhang the roof to remove access to your roof.
  4. Spread some quassia chips throughout the roof cavity to repel the possum. These can usually be found at hardware stores, or a local pharmacy.

If you can’t find quassia chips, you could repel the possum by spreading eight blocks of camphor or one or two boxes of mothballs throughout the roof cavity. Do not use both camphor and moth balls as they react chemically with each other.

  1. Place a light in the roof cavity and keep it switched on for 3 days and nights. The combination of the light and the smell should drive the possum out of your roof and hopefully into the possum box you have provided.
  2. If you do not hear the possum for a few nights, it has probably found a new home. To prevent the possum from returning, block off the access points into your roof with timber, chicken wire or both. Night-time is the best time to block off the access points as the possum will have left to forage for food. Do not block off the access points unless you are certain the possum or possums have left your roof.

How to Make a Possum Box

  1. Use 10-12mm thick timber such as untreated pine; avoid chipboard.
  2. Fix timber with galvanised nails and waterproof PVA glue.
  3. Lid should overhang sides by 1-1.5cm and front by 10-12cm to prevent rain entering box.
  4. Lid can be hinged at back by rubber strip cut from inner car tube.
  5. The exterior of the box can be painted with UV-resistant, non-toxic paint to prolong its life and to make it less conspicuous. Use a colour that blends with the environment.
  6. A few 10-12mm dia. holes should be drilled in the floor prior to placing some dead leaves or coconut fibre in the box.
  7. Attach chicken wire mesh inside and outside the box to assist juveniles climbing in and out.
  8. Hang box 3-4 metres above ground using thick wire or chain firmly secured to the back of the box; use a length of garden hose to protect the tree.
  9. The bottom of the box should be secured to the tree using a galvanised metal strap and flat head nails.
  10. The box should face away from the afternoon sun and strong prevailing winds.

• Brushtail possums are very territorial. Moving a possum from its area generally condemning it to death.
• Boxes of similar design may be used for birds (parrots, lorikeets, kookaburras etc).