How to Get Rid of a Possum on Your Roof and Prevent It from Coming Back

Possums are so common in Australia that they can be found right in the middle of the country's largest cities. Possums with ringtails or brushtails are among the most adaptable and versatile of our marsupials. They spend a significant portion of their lives above our heads, with many of them residing in suburban gardens. They venture out at night to look for food, making their way through the branches of trees, across rooftops, and along fences and powerlines in order to avoid being run over by cars or attacked by dogs.

Possums are typically wary of humans and cause us very little harm; however, they can be a nuisance for us by eating the flowers and fruit that we grow in our gardens, and in the case of the Brushtail Possum, by taking up residence in the attics of our homes. If you think you might have a possum living in your attic, take a look at this helpful guide for tips on how to coax it out.

List of topics covered

How can I prevent possums from walking across my roof at night?

Possums will typically only frequent your roof on a regular basis for one of these three reasons: They are either living on your roof, making their home on your roof, or using your roof as a means of transportation. It can be difficult to stop possums from running on a roof because you can't prevent them from walking across power lines. After that, they will most likely use overhanging trees to gain access to your roof; therefore, the solution is to cut back trees so that they are further away from the roofline.

Decorative lattice features and deck posts, which possums can use to ascend and descend from your roof, are another source of concern. In this instance, you might want to think about putting some plastic or smooth metal around these so that they cannot grip them and use them to climb up or down.

There are a few different approaches that can be taken in order to get rid of possums that have taken up residence in a roof, but the most important step is to block the possums' access to your attic and to locate both their entry and exit points.

Simply scrunching up a few pieces of newspaper and inserting them into any holes you find is a quick and easy way to determine whether or not a possum is using an opening in the roof cavity of your home. Possums are known to be opportunistic animals. If a possum is using it as a point of entry, it will push them out of the way when it emerges at dusk because it needs the space. In spite of this, it is possible that the process will still need to be repeated even after a possum has been removed and an entrance has been sealed off because they may be using a variety of entry points.

After you have located any potential entry points, you will need to seal them to prevent the possum from going back inside. This can be accomplished with solid sheeting, timber, or strong mesh; however, chicken wire is not recommended because possums have powerful claws that can easily rip off the wire if they are determined to get back in.

In order to begin the process of closing off entry points with wire mesh, you can initially attach it to one side of the opening and use crumpled newspaper to keep the other side open. This will allow the possum to push it open as it leaves, but the paper will be pushed out, and the mesh will spring back into place, preventing it from re-entering the enclosure.

After you have determined with reasonable certainty that the possum has left the attic, you can close off the opposite side of the mesh to prevent it from being re-entered. At the same time, you should cut back any vegetation that hangs over the edge of the roof. This will prevent other potential entry points from being accessible.

What are the possible outcomes if this does not resolve the issue?

Because they are a protected species of animal, possums can only be removed from their homes by professionally trained and licensed possum relocators. Therefore, in the event that the method described above was unsuccessful for you, you will be required to seek assistance from a professional. Possum removal, on the other hand, does not necessarily constitute a "quick fix." If the old den site is not properly sealed off after it has been vacated, it will simply be occupied again.

Relocators will typically seal off any potential entry points before installing a trap in the ceiling that will allow the possum to be removed from the attic and released outside. Relocators in the state of Queensland are required to release possums within 25 meters of the point of capture. This is done to prevent an animal from being released into the territory of another possum. When possums are relocated to an area where they do not have access to a den, where they must contend for food and den space with another possum in the area, or where they are likely to be attacked by dogs, their chances of surviving are significantly reduced.

After you have hired a possum relocator, it is also a good idea to request that they put in a nesting box for the possum so that it will have a secure place to go after it is released (you will learn more about this in the following section).

What steps can I take to prevent a possum from reentering my attic?

Electronic devices

Because possums prefer to rest in the dark, it is possible that turning on a light that has been placed in the roof cavity and leaving it on for several days and nights will discourage them from coming back. It is also possible to purchase motion-activated ultrasonic devices that are set off whenever a possum walks in front of the sensor and have the potential to scare the animals away. Some of these devices will also produce a high-pitched sound that is outside of the human hearing range but is certain to be distressing to possums.

Odoriferous materials and products

The possum's scent can be covered up by using disinfectant or a quassia chip solution to spray around the area where the entrance has been blocked off. This may prevent the possum from attempting to re-enter the area. Garlic, mothballs, and ammonia are a few other smells that possums tend to find offensive. Possums are repulsed by the smell of liquid seaweed, so another do-it-yourself suggestion is to soak an old stocking in it and hang it in the yard or near fruit trees or your vegetable garden.

The origins of food

The removal of food sources from your home can make it less appealing to possums, as these animals are drawn to places where it is simple to procure food. Ensure that the lids of the garbage cans are securely fastened, maintain a clean grill, and, if at all possible, feed your pets inside. After your pet has been fed, clean up any leftover food or water and put it away.

If you have fruit trees, you should either pick up the fallen fruit or make use of netting to try to prevent the fruit from falling. If you enjoy providing food for local birds, you should avoid spreading bird seed in the late afternoon. Perform the task in the late morning or the middle of the afternoon, or make use of bird feeders and bring them inside before dusk.

Under no circumstances should you knowingly leave food out for possums. Possums that are kept as pets by humans will eventually lose their natural fear of people and may become hostile if they are not provided with food.

Alternate places to take refuge

Dens are absolutely necessary for the continued existence of brushtail possums. They are vulnerable to a variety of daytime dangers if they do not have one, including attacks from crows and other birds, as well as the risk of aggressive encounters with other possums when they try to invade den sites that are already occupied by other possums. Think about providing possums with an alternative place to live, such as by purchasing or constructing a possum box.

At a minimum of four meters above the ground, it should be firmly attached to a tree, and it should be positioned in such a way as to keep the possum safe from being approached by domesticated dogs and cats. Because possums are naturally inquisitive and like to investigate their territory, positioning some fruit, such as pears, apples, or grapes, close to the box may encourage a possum to investigate its new home. Possums like to explore their territory.

Can I trap a possum myself

It is against the law to trap and rehome possums in the state of New South Wales unless you have been granted permission to do so under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Possums are a protected species in the state.

Possum traps made of wire mesh are available for rent from a number of local councils if you are granted the necessary permit. Place the trap in the attic space close to where the possum can enter, and check on it first thing in the morning. If you catch a possum in Queensland, you are required to release it within 24 hours, during the night, and within 25 meters of the location where it was found. It is against the law to release a possum in an area that is smaller than this distance.

Trap requirements

  • The construction of a cage trap must take into account safety concerns.
  • A box made of wire mesh that has squares that are less than 19 millimeters each is the ideal construction. When caught in a trap with a larger mesh, possums can cause significant damage to their noses by forcing them through the openings.
  • At all times, traps need to be placed in a level, stable position where they are safe from animals such as cats and dogs, as well as the elements, including rain, wind, and direct sunlight.
  • To lure the possum into the cage, you can make use of suitable bait such as peanut butter, fruit, or vegetables.

The parameters of the capture

  • It is required that any and all traps be checked no later than two hours after sunrise.
  • If you manage to catch a possum during the day, you should put it in a room in your house that is dark, cool, and quiet, and then cover it with an old towel or blanket so that it is not exposed to any light.

Possums that had been captured are set free.

  • Possums that have been caught in traps are required to be released on the same property on which they were caught, no further than 25 meters away from the capture site after sunset on the day they were caught. Possums are more likely to become stressed and injured if they are released during the day, which also increases the likelihood that they will be attacked.
  • If you want to avoid getting scratched, you should protect your skin by wearing thick gloves or by using a long pole.
  • When you let the possum out of its cage, make sure to point it in the direction you want it to run.
  • It is against the law to relocate brushtail possums.
  • Within twenty-four hours of being captured, possums are required to be euthanized in a humane manner by a registered veterinary practitioner, at the expense of the trapper, and within the case where it is not reasonably possible to release the possum on your property.

How can I tell if the animal in my roof is a possum?

Possums are sometimes unfairly blamed when rats are more likely to be the animals that are responsible for damage to your property, such as eating your fruit or living in your ceiling. The question is, how can you tell whether the animal in the attic is a rat or a possum?

If there is something moving around in the ceiling, it will make a variety of noises depending on its size, the way it walks, and the activities that it is engaged in. Rats rarely weigh more than a few hundred grams and have a tendency to run rather than scurry when they are on the move. They do this to maintain the sharpness of their constantly growing front teeth, which causes them to gnaw frequently and loudly; therefore, it is highly likely that a rat is responsible for the noises you are hearing in the wall cavity of your home.

Brushtail Possums can weigh up to five kilograms, so even when they are moving slowly, their weight causes them to make a thumping sound in the roof. It is very likely that you will hear loud bangs on the ceiling or roof, coughing and hissing noises, see stains on your ceiling, or smell a potent ammonia scent as a result of the urine that they have left behind.

If there is more than one animal living in your attic, the ones that are there are probably either mating or squabbling over their territory. In either scenario, the noise the animal makes can assist you in making an educated guess as to its size. When mating or fighting, possums and rats will both make squeaking sounds; however, the squeal made by a rat will have a higher pitch. The loud, throaty call that a resident male Brushtail Possum makes to warn other males that they are within its home range can be used to positively identify the animal.

When it comes to their droppings, possums and rats typically have black pellet-shaped droppings that range in length from approximately seven millimeters for rats to more than 15 millimeters for Brushtail Possums. Rat droppings are typically smaller than possum droppings. The size of the droppings left behind by a Ringtail Possum falls somewhere in the middle. It is common to find rat droppings strewn about an area that is used for nesting or feeding, whereas possum droppings are more likely to be found beneath a tree in an area where the animal has been feeding.

When it comes to nesting, brushtail possums may have built a nest of leaves in your ceiling or slept on the insulation of your ceiling. Rats typically construct their nests in sheltered areas and line them with rags, shredded paper, or dry plant material. Rat nests can range in size from a few inches to several feet in diameter.

How exactly do possums gain access to my attic space?

Typically, possums will gain access to your home through a roof cavity that is located close to the eaves and possibly near a bush or tree that leans up against your home and provides access. If a Brushtail Possum can get its head into space, then it is likely that the rest of its body can as well, and older homes often have openings into roof cavities that are big enough to let possums in. If a Brushtail Possum can get its head into space, then it can probably squeeze the rest of its body in as well.

What kind of damage are possums capable of causing?

In addition to the noise they create, possums have the potential to cause significant damage to plasterboard, weatherboards, ceiling cavities, and even wiring if they are not controlled. They are also capable of leaving urine stains and causing odors, and if they pass away, the smell of a dead possum in the attic will be difficult to miss.

Why do possums choose to make their homes in roof cavities?

Possums are nocturnal animals that live in trees and are active during the night. They spend the day dozing off in the cavities of trees or, in the case of ringtails found in southern Australia, high up in the branches of trees.

On the other hand, the formation of Eucalyptus trees from tree hollows can take anywhere from one hundred years to even more than that. The number of hollows that are accessible has significantly decreased as a result of land being cleared for development, agriculture, and housing. Once they are gone, there is no way for nature to naturally replace them for a very long time, until new hollows develop in trees that are either younger or from other species. Because there are not enough suitable tree hollows, possums are forced to enter our roofs through holes and make their homes there, where it is dark and safe.

What kinds of possums can be found in the state of Queensland?

Species

The Common Ringtail Possum and the Common Brushtail Possum are the two species of possums that are most frequently seen in the state of Queensland; both of these animals are active at night.

Brushtail Possums

Brushtail Possums, also known as Trichosurus vulpecula, are frequently seen in urban areas and can be found living along the east coast of Australia, in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Canberra, Tasmania, the south-east corner of South Australia, in central Australia, including the southern Northern Territory, and along the south-west coast of Western Australia.

The color of brushtails can range from a coppery brown in northern Queensland to a grayish or even a nearly black hue in the southern states. Brushtails are found in all of Australia's states and territories. The brushtail's bushy, dark, and thick tail is where the animal got its name. They have the pointed ears of a cat, and their size is comparable to that of a large cat. Flowers, leaves, fruits, and even meat and small invertebrates can be found in a brushtail tarantula's diet.

When protecting its home range, the Brush-tailed Possum has a reputation for being particularly vocal and aggressive. The male possum defends a territory that is approximately 2 8 hectares when living in close proximity with people, whereas females require approximately 1 hectare. 9 hectares

Brushtail Possums tend to mate in the fall or the spring, but they are able to do so at any time of the year provided there is sufficient food. They typically have one offspring, which remains with its mother for the first four to five months of its life before venturing off on its own between the ages of six and 18 months.

Ringtail Possums

Pseudocheirus peregrinus, also known as the Ringtail Possum, is a species of possum that is significantly less common than its Brushtail cousin. They can be found in the southwest of Western Australia, as well as the southwest corner of Queensland, most of Victoria, New South Wales, Canberra, and Tasmania. They are also found in Tasmania.

The Ringtail has smaller ears than the Brushtail, and its typical color is a grayish brown with white underparts, red flanks, and white spots behind its ears. It also has red flanks.

The long, tapering tail that gives ringtail possums their name; the very tip of the possum's tail is white. It is prehensile, which means that it is capable of gripping like another hand. This possum has the ability to grip branches with its tail, and it can also carry nesting material with it.

Ringtails consume primarily leaves, including those of the eucalyptus tree, but they have been known to occasionally develop a taste for the flowers in your garden.

Ringtails are gregarious animals that often share their home ranges with other ringtails of the same species. Even though they occasionally make quiet, high-pitched twittering calls, they are not nearly as noisy as Brushtail Possums. Between the months of April and November, ringtail possums have their young. Typically, a mother possum will carry her two young for the first four months of their lives before transferring them to the pouch on her back, where they will remain for the next 11 months.

In comparison to the common Brushtail, the Mountain Brushtail Possum has shorter, rounder ears, and when found in the rainforest, a coat of black fur. This third species of Brushtail Possum can be found in wetter, higher altitude areas of south-east Queensland. It is known as the Mountain Brushtail Possum. In addition, there are a number of other species, such as the Herbert River ringtail, which serves as the symbol of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

Habitat

The natural predators of possums have been largely supplanted in urban areas by the mortality caused by vehicles as well as attacks by dogs and cats. Possums can still be found in inner-city areas, and they are quite common in many suburban neighborhoods, despite the fact that urban development often involves the destruction of natural habitats for animals.

Each possum has what is known as a "home range" in which it resides. Ringtail Possums are able to form bonds between males and females that are strong enough to last between breeding seasons because their home ranges overlap. Possums, on the other hand, are typically solitary animals; when two possums are observed together, it is almost always a mother and her young.

Brushtail Possums are capable of forming territories, but the majority of the time they rely on their sense of smell and their vocalizations to establish den ownership. This also gives them the ability to avoid coming into close, and potentially hostile, contact with the possums that live nearby.

Adult possums have taken up all of the available dens, and a possum that does not have a home will not be able to survive. Because of this, many juvenile possums will perish as they become independent because they will be unable to establish a territory of their own. It also implies that if one possum is removed from an area, another will quickly move in and take up residence in the vacant den.

The vast majority of possums are almost impossible to spot and, at worst, they are responsible for "small mischiefs," such as leaping over your roof at night and stealing fruit from the trees in your backyard.

The availability of suitable dens is one of the most important factors that play a role in determining the total number of possums in an area. In spite of this, brushtail possums have adapted by moving into the ceilings of our homes because there are so few mature trees in suburban areas that still have hollow branches.

In contrast to the Brushtail Possum, the Ringtail Possum lives in the southern part of Australia, where it constructs a nest called a drey out of sticks, grass, and bark. They will typically construct a number of dreys within a home range in order to have an alternate location to relocate to in the event that one of their dreys is accidentally destroyed. The typical location of dreys is two to four meters off the ground and in the branches of trees. In the north, ringtails almost never construct dreys and instead sleep in the hollows of trees. On the other hand, in contrast to Brushtails, they do not typically enjoy taking refuge in your roof.

References

  • What should I do if I believe I have a possum living in the attic of my house in the year 2021?
  • Good Living Magazine, 2021: "What to do if there's a possum in your roof,"
  • 2019: Possums, the Government of the State of Victoria
  • Possum Removal in Brisbane: 10 Strategies to Sort Out Pest Possums, Suburban Pest, Year 2021,
  • 2021, Possums, Department of Environment and Science of the Queensland Government
  • 2021, a Possum in your roof? Backyard Buddies
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