Each year the Council receives numerous calls for help to remove brushtail possums.
The brushtail possum is protected in Queensland and a permit is required to trap or remove an animal.
Here is some advice on ways to solve the problem of brushtail possums sheltering in houses to help the householder to avoid harming the animals.
Brushtails or Rats?
Is noise in the ceiling a possum? About one-third of calls prove to be about introduced rats, which are declared pests. Sometimes both animals are involved and separate actions are required.
A black bushy tail, large erect ears and a silver-grey coat make the cat-sized brushtail possum easy to recognise.
If the creatures have not been seen, they can be identified from the noises they make. Scratching, chewing and ‘skittering’ noises are made by rats. Rats also collect and store macadamia nuts; brushtail possums do not.
Brushtail possums make loud, heavy, thumping sounds when they walk on flat surfaces. They also make guttural growls, loud hissing and coughing noises warning other brushtail possums to keep away.
If you have rats you will have to contact your local pest control operator to remove them.
Catching the animal and releasing it some distance away never works – not because the possum finds its way back but because it is replaced by another from nearby. Simply removing possums could go on forever.
Animals that have been removed usually face a slow death. The release area might be unsuitable for brushtails or may be occupied by another brushtail, which will defend its territory vigorously. Conflict between the two for food and shelter usually means the released brushtail dies.
While people object to possums living in ceilings or between floors, most wish them no harm. Since the possum’s chances of survival are best in its own territory, the following strategy is suggested.
- Find out where the possum is getting in and out. (More than one place may be involved). The most effective method is to cram loose wads of waste paper into all suspected access points during the daytime. After dark, a residential brushtail possum will push out the paper wads to leave the den.
- Make repairs to prevent entry. This can be done on a fine night between 8pm and 10pm when the possum is outside feeding.
- Repairs must be sound as a brushtail possum is quite strong and will work hard to re-enter the shelter site. If the animal has been trapped inside, its noisy attempts to escape will alert you. Baby possums always ride in the mothers pouch or on her back.
- Alternatively, repairs can be done during the day. The possum must then be trapped inside the ceiling that night and simply released outside. As several possums could occupy the ceiling, trap until no more are caught. Use sliced apple with a dash of vanilla as bait.
- Splash the old entry areas liberally with a strong smelling substance such as disinfectant. The brushtail possum uses scent to mark its territory and entrances to its den. Failure to destroy the scent often results in continued disturbance as the possum tries to re-enter the den.
- Seal the entry points
- Hang wooden boxes or hollow logs in trees nearby to provide the animal with other places to create a den.
Some householders find they cannot solve the problem themselves. Many pest controllers are experienced in removing brushtail possums are licenced to use harmless traps.
The Council or Queensland Parks and Wildlife DO NOT supply traps.
Please remember that if buildings are maintained in good repair, brushtail possums will be denied access and potential problems avoided.
Who to Contact
For more information and advice please contact:
Queensland Parks and Wildlife
P O Box 5597, TOWNSVILLE, QLD, 4810
Phone: 4796 7777