Living with Possums
We are extremely lucky to have such a diverse group of native birds, mammals and reptiles living in our backyards and surrounding areas. One native animal you may find in your backyard is the northern brushtail possum, which is protected under the Territory Parks and Wildlife conservation act 2000
Short term care for injured possums
It is important to remember that an injured, sick or orphaned possum, as with any wild animal, will be stressed when caught. Stress can kill a possum so it is very important that it is kept in a dark, quiet place, away from children and family pets.
If it is a large possum, wrap it loosely in a towel and place it in a box. Be careful of it’s claws and teeth as they can do serious damage if the animal gets stressed and attacks to protect itself.
If it is a furred joey (200-350 grams) place it in warm woollen wrappings, eg: socks or something similar, that has been lined with a cotton slip. Make sure that it is a snug fit for the possum (but not too tight). Place it into a larger pouch, and seal the top with a rubber band or tie, possums are great escape artists!
If you find a furless or just furred joey (50-120 grams) place it in a woollen sock then into warm wrappings. It is crucial that the possum be kept warm. Use a heat source if you have one. A hot water bottle can be used in an emergency, but make sure that the water is changed regularly (do not use boiling water). A water bottle will need to be wrapped in a towel. A heat pad is a better option. Warm the joey slowly, the temperature inside the makeshift pouch should be around 32o – 33o Celsius – no higher. Do not over heat the possum as this is as detrimental as under heating it. A possum of this size needs to get to an experienced carer urgently as they need specialised care.
Do not feed any wild animal for at least a few hours after rescue – they need to have their stress levels reduced and too much human contact can send them into shock.
Please drop it off at the nearest vet or contact Wildcare 89 886 121.
Due to land clearing and removal of natural hollow trees and logs, these nocturnal marsupials are being forced into urban areas.
Possums often consider the dark sheltered areas of roofs a suitable nesting site and can be heard moving as they leave the roof after dark and return before dawn.
Wildcare recommends the following measures to help with your possum problems
- Provide a nesting box in your backyard. (see below)
- Locate and block access and exit points when you are sure all possums are out of the roof. Block up any gaps with suitable building materials. This is best done at night when the possum has left. Make a one way flap to allow the possums to leave the roof, but do not return
- Remove the possum’s access to the roof by lopping any overhanging branches
- Do not hand feed any possums as this will attract more to your area
- If you are unable to block the entry to your roof
- Scatter camphor blocks or napthalene flakes inside the roof (do not mix these as this may cause a chemical reaction), possums do not like the smell
- Place a light in the roof cavity for at least three consecutive nights to discourage the possum – being nocturnal possums prefer dark areas to sleep in
Artificial Nesting Boxes
Where nesting sites are not available, mammals and birds can use artificial nesting boxes. Brushtail possums prefer a deep box that has been cleared out after previous habitation. An entrance hole of 9-12cm is preferred and natural logs are better to use when building a box.
A lip over the entrance hole is beneficial as it will not allow excess rain or light in. Boxes should be placed between four to eight metres above the ground and small holes drilled in the base to allow for drainage Nesting boxes can be made out of most materials, but be careful of treated timbers and timbers painted with lead based paints (many animals chew on the edges of the boxes when marking their territory and lead base paints can poison them).
With the Territory’s high humidity and rainfall it is recommended that marine ply be used to make boxes. Nestboxes can be purchased from Wildcare
Removal of Possums
You should be aware that due to the protection of these animals, you are not permitted to trap and relocate these animals without a permit to do so. A special permit is required in the Northern Territory to remove them from your property and it is illegal and cruel to ‘dump’ then in another area where they will have little chance of survival.
For more information on relocation and rehabilitation contact
Wildcare (08) 89 886 121
WANTED Wildlife release sites
We are seeking suitable areas in which to release rehabilitated native animals. A description of suitable habitat is listed below
- Flowering native scrubs
- Property larger than 50 acres
- Safe distance from road traffic, domestic pets and human activities
- Multiple large old growth trees that have hollows (Woolybutt and Ironwood species)
- Early burning regime with low intensity fires
- Easy access with 4WD
- Permanent water source (not essential)
If your property fits this description and you would like to help provide a home for native wildlife please contact Wildcare Inc on 89886121
Click on the images below to download our Facts Sheet about Living With Possums.