Brush-tailed possums like to live in roof cavities. As these possums are territorial, removing one will not solve your problem as new possums will shortly move into the vacant territory. A relocated possum will not survive in a new territory. So you need to rehouse them nearby, away from your roof, ideally in a tree in your garden. It is illegal to relocate or kill a possum.
DIY possum removal
Use these instructions for removing the possum yourself.
First, make sure it is a possum and not a rat or mouse – sprinkling flour near the manhole and checking the footprints will determine this – possums are the size of a cat.
- Next, set up an alternative home for the possum. You will need a nesting box – you can either purchase one from a retail outlet in New South Wales or build your own.
- 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.
- Encourage the possum to investigate their new home by putting pieces of fresh fruit in or near the nesting box.
- Locate a suitable tree in your garden to site the box, securing it at least 4 metres up.
- Find out how the possum is getting into the roof space by observing it at dusk when it will leave to forage.
- Repel possums by sprinkling the roof cavity with quassia chips (from hardware stores), or naphthalene or camphor (Note: do not use a combination of products) and putting a light into the roof cavity and leaving it on for three 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.
- After you are certain the possum has moved into its new home, block its access into the roof by installing a one-way door or filling the hole with chicken wire or wood and trimming any overhanging branches. Night time is the best time to block off the access points as the possum will have left to forage for food.
- If the possum returns, there is another access point you need to find.
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 your local National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) office. Traps may be available for hire from some licensed wildlife rehabilitation groups or pest control companies.
Remember to block off the access points into your roof and to provide a possum house if you intend to try trapping.
Releasing a possum
A possum must be released at dusk no more than 150 metres away from the point of capture and near something it can immediately climb, such as a tree or tall fence, otherwise it will not survive.
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.
NPWS may relocate possums to other areas, but only as a last resort.
Possum removal services
If you are unable to carry out these steps yourself, you can hire a professional possum catch and release possum operator to do it for a fee. Catch and release possum operators are licensed by the NPWS Wildlife Team.
Contact the Wildlife Team for more details.