Ozark - the Australian Wildlife Carer's Information & Communications Network

Sun - Aug 20


By Sonya Stanvic

There are three species of possums which will take up residence in houses. The Brushtail, the Ringtail and the Sugar glider. All have been found in roofs, wall cavities, linen presses and laundry cupboards.


You will need to determine what possum it is or if it is indeed a possum. Another very common invader which builds nests made from leaves in the roof and wall cavities is a Rattus rattus (Black rat). Black rats are noisy at night and you can hear them scurry across the floor. They will also chew into the wall and timber. Possums normally leave the roof after dusk and arrive back around dawn. Scats (droppings) can tell you if it is a possum or a rat!


If a caller reports a possum in the roof, the caller will need to find how it is gaining access.

A bright light in the roof will deter possums as they are nocturnal and it will also show up the point of entry e.g. loose/broken tile or hole in eaves. During the day sunlight will penetrate from the hole and the entry point should be easily found.

A thin sheetmetal collar at least 2 foot high wrapped around the trunk of a tree will stop possums from climbing and gaining access to the roof.

Trim branches  near the house (at lease two metres) and along fences attached or close to the house.

Place moth balls  in a sealed container with holes in the top (so they don't roll all over the floor) possums do not like the smell and hopefully with vacate the roof! Placing an 80cm diameter disc over the wire close to the house should help stop access from the power line to the house (get an electrician). Chimneys should have a thick wire grid to stop possums and birds from gaining access. If a possum is trapped in a chimney, a thick rope or knotted sheet  can be placed into it - the possum can climb out at dusk and the chimney sealed. If a possum finds its way into a house at night, open the doors windows and gently coax it outside. Don't make loud noises as it will panic and climb the curtains. The higher up, the safer it feels.


This should be the last resort so make sure the house owner has organized for all  points of entry  to be sealed once the possum is trapped. The owner should also provide an alternative home for the possum to be placed on the property - a suitable possum box .  If the point of entry is not sealed, trapping is a pointless exercise.

A possum trap  must be set in a stable position and protected from domestic pets, rain, cold, wind and direct sunlight. Check the trap in the early morning (no later than 2 hours after sunrise). Once trapped the possum should be covered and located in a quiet place for release at sunset on the same day it was captured - no more than 50 metres  from the capture site. (NPWS regulations).

Possums are not relocated  as they are very territorial and will be killed by the resident possums. The animal can be taken into care to help the owners repair the points of entry but this should be for no more than three days  -otherwise another possum will take up the vacancy. If the animal is injured it must be released back to the property in a Possum Box  once it has healed.


Spray diluted dogs urine (mix I part dog urine to 2000 parts of water) around the plant not directly onto the foliage (it works) you could get a supply from your vet. Blood & bone fertilizer around the base of plants (lock the dog up - they love to roll in it), D-ter, garlic spray, citronella oil and Quassia spray along with POSSOFF have all been used so take your pick-if it works let me know! Put metal collars around fruit trees. Lock up your veggies in an aviary or place netting onto a frame around the plant.


Sugar Glider


Sugar gliders are small cute gliding possums light grey above with a cream underbelly. They have large eyes and a fluffy grey tail which is used as a rudder when gliding. A dark patch on their forehead is the cent gland which is more prominent in males. These animals live in small groups of up to seven adults have been recorded. Females are smaller than males - weighting from 100 to 170 grams. Females can have 1 to 2 pouch young during August which stay in the pouch until they are too heavy to carry around. Then they are left in the nest while mother forages at night. These animals are not timid and can inflict a nasty bite if grabbed. Sugars make a winding noise when disturbed in the nest and a yap call not unlike a small dog from a distance. Sugar gliders have a pale red eye shine.

Sugar gliders scats are small, long and narrow cylinder in shape. Usually brown but can be paler if the possum has been feeding on wattle gum. If fresh it may have a sweet smell but there is no odour when scats are dry.

Brushtail Possum


The Common Brushtails is about the size of a domestic cat, covered in grey fur with a cream underbelly, large oval ears and a black bushy tail. They do not build nests and the female usually has one pouch young. Brushtails also have a love of (human) food! The young will stay with its mother until dispersal age around 12-18 months. Around breeding time males are very vocal with hisses, growls and screams. Fights due to territorial disputes are common at this time. Brushtails have red eye shine.

Brushtails have jelly- bean size pellets which are cigar shaped and usually brown. These are deposited in small groups of single pellets, clumps or a string of pellets - the colour varies with diet. Large and small scats may mean mother and young.

Ringtail Possum


Ringtails weight between 650 to 900 grams, with males being larger than females. Greyish/brown in colour with a creamy underbelly, they have short rounded ears and a long thin prehensile tail - one third of which is tipped white. Females usually have twins but can have triplets. Ringtails make a large nest from leaves and shredded bark called a drey. Vocalizations consist of high pitched twittering sounds much like a bird. Ringtails have pale red eye shine.

Ringtail scats are smaller than Brushtails' and found in small groups of 3-6 at a time. If fresh their scats may have a mild smell of eucalyptus oil - dry pellets do not smell.


Black Rat
Black rat also make a nest in roofs/walls their scats can be dark brown or black and can be found in dark corners or Scattered throughout the roof depending on how many rats are living there. Mice scats smell mousy (musty) like mice kept in a pet shop.

Scat pictures from Tracks, Scats and Other Traces by Barbara Triggs


©Ozark - Australian Wildlife Carers Network
Website written & designed by Kathryn Keen