The common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula, from the Greek for “furry tailed” and the Latin for “little fox”, previously in the genus Phalangista) is a nocturnal, semi-arboreal marsupial of the family Phalangeridae, it is native to Australia, and the second largest of the possums.
Like most possums, the common brushtail possum is nocturnal. It is mainly a folivore, but has been known to eat small mammals such as rats. In most Australian habitats, leaves of eucalyptus are a significant part of the diet but rarely the sole item eaten. The tail is prehensile and naked on its lower underside. There are four colour variations: silver-grey, brown, black, and gold.
It is the Australian marsupial most often seen by city-dwellers, as it is one of few that thrives in cities, as well as a wide range of natural and human-modified environments. Around human habitations, common brushtails are inventive and determined foragers with a liking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and kitchen raids.
The common brushtail possum was introduced to New Zealand in 1837 to establish a fur industry, but in the mild subtropical climate of New Zealand, and with few to no natural predators, it thrived to the extent that it became a major agricultural and conservation pest.
Why can’t possums be relocated off my property?
Possums are protected by the Victorian and South Australian Governments and therefore cannot be relocated. They may be taken from their nests, which may be in your roof, but they must be released 50 metres from where they were trapped.
How do possums and rats gain access onto the roof?
Trees and vines that overhang a roof need to be cut back from the roof line by at least two metres. This will stop the possums and rats jumping the distance to the roof. Electricity and telephone cables that lead from the street to the house can also allow access onto the roof. Tubing and or a disc needs to be placed on these wires. This will need to be done by a qualified electrical trades person.
Why do i need my subfloor secured?
As possums cannot be relocated off a property, they will try to find another way to access the roof. This can be via an open subfloor and wall cavities. Rats can access the roof via this method as well. For a subfloor to be secured properly, a strong aviary type mesh needs to be put around the perimeter of the house and dug into the ground at least two inches. Chicken wire unfortunately is too flimsy and possums will push their way back through.
If a rat or possum dies in the roof, how long can the odour linger for?
Why isn’t the treatment an instant fix?
To remove your possums permanently they need to leave the roof of their own accord. They may not leave the roof every night, as it will depend on the last time they needed food. Part of the treatment to remove possums from your roof requires our technician to come back to the property every three to four days to ascertain the possums’ whereabouts.
Rats and mice don’t approach new things straight away. After bait has been laid it won’t be touched for at least three days. There will not be a significant difference in the noises heard for at least three weeks and the noises may sometimes worsen before they get better.
Why can possums and rats be heard in the wall cavities?
Possums prefer sleeping in wall cavities during the day as it is warmer and darker than a roof cavity. Rats can also be heard in wall cavities as they scurry between floors etc.
Can they damage my roof or my ceilings?
Yes. Possums and rats can cause damage in the roof by eating through electrical wires. If they are nesting on the insulation in the roof, this can become damaged through constant urination and will require replacing. Urine may also seep through and damage your ceiling.
How do possums and rats access my roof?
Possums only need a gap the size of a golf ball to squeeze through, whereas rats can get through much smaller gaps. Possums can therefore be blocked out of a roof by professional proofing, whereas rats can only be controlled by baiting.
How can you tell the difference between possums and rats?
Possums are nocturnal and therefore active at night. They often make loud thumping noises in the roof, and screeching, disturbing calls. Rats are also common in rooves, and you will hear them scampering about. You may also hear rats gnawing on wood surfaces or timber frames and other materials. Without a proper inspection it can be very hard to tell by just the noises. You may have both rats and possums.
Is internal access needed for the treatment?
This depends on the type of roof and whether the technician feels better access will be gained via a manhole. Not all properties will have a manhole, for example properties with a flat roof, but this is a must for those with colorbond, corrugated iron or slate roofs. Access may not be required for all visits but definitely for the initial visit. The technician will advise if access is needed.