Removing a possum from your roof
In their natural environment, possums usually live in tree hollows but with the loss of native bushland many of these natural homes have been destroyed. Being highly territorial, possums do not relocate easily and so they sometimes seek safe shelter in your roof.
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 possum-house (see our guide to making a possum house, or contact your local NPWS office).
2. 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-house to encourage the possum to its new home.
3. Securely fix the possum-house to a tree in or near your yard. Place it at least 4 metres (12 feet) from the ground so the possum will be out of reach of domestic cats and dogs.
4. To encourage the possum to investigate its new home, put half an apple or banana in or near the possum-house.
5. Trim any branches that overhang the roof to remove access to your roof.
6. Spread some quassia chips throughout the roof cavity to repel the possum. These chips come from quassia plants, which are native to Central and South America. You can usually find quassia chips at hardware stores, or your local pharmacy may be able to order some for you.
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.
7. 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-house you have provided.
8. 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.
If this does not deter the possum, you may need to trap it.
Where to get a licence and a trap
Possums are protected in NSW and catching possums without a licence is illegal in NSW.
- Licences to trap possums on your property are issued free of charge from any NPWS office.
- Traps are available for hire from some pest control companies.
Alternatively, a pest control company, licensed by OEH, can trap the possum for you. See map of possum captures in Sydney.
Remember to block off the access points into your roof and to provide a possum-house if you intend to try trapping.
What happens to the possum after it is caught
The possum must be released back onto your property at dusk. Bushland areas rarely have any vacant territories, so if you were to release the possum in another area, it would have to search and compete with other possums for shelter and food in unfamiliar territory.
OEH may relocate possums to other areas, but only as a last resort.
Making friends with a possum
By providing a possum house, you are encouraging the possum to stay and claim your yard as its territory. The possum will then discourage other possums from moving into your roof and yard. By making friends with a possum, you can help to conserve the species and learn about their way of life at the same time.
Page last updated: 15 April 2011