Aussie cleaning hurdles: Preventing a possum invasion

Home and Garden

When it comes to Aussie cleaning hurdles, possums in the roof is a major one. They make a racket when they nest in your roof, they smell, they help themselves to the produce in your garden, they deposit waste everywhere and they’re carriers of the blood-sucking brown bush tick. Possums even pose a fire hazard, as house fires in Canberra in recent years have shown.

Because possums are a protected species, along with taking measures to prevent a possum invasion, once you have a possum problem, a licensed handler is required to catch and release the possum according to regulations, namely:

 

  1. Obtain a catch and release license.
  2. Catch the possum alive.
  3. Wait until after sunset.
  4. Release the possum within 50m of the property.

 

With so much involved in dealing with a possum invasion, the best way to manage the possum problem is to take a few practical steps that will prevent possums from nesting in your home in the first place.

Find points of egress

Possums can enter from any opening in the property. That means your deck, roof cavity, vents (attic, building foundation), window screens, door screens, chimney and pet doors.

 

  • Repair any holes you find in the foundation, deck lattice, screens, etc.
  • Block vents with metal mesh covering to prevent entry.
  • Cover chimneys with a chimney cap or metal mesh.
  • Routinely spray these entry points with bleach or ammonia to eradicate appealing smells.
  • Lock pet doors at night, which is when possums are active.

Set up motion-activated lights or sprinklers

Setting up motion-activated devices where possums frequent help scare possums away. Lights are enough to scare away skittish possums, while sprinklers are effective in scaring away more mature possums who do not fear humans.

 

Place the motion activated devices around the perimeter of your property, at the front of your house, near trees and other potential covering, etc.

 

Remove food sources

As with all pests, removing food sources is critical to making your home less appealing.

 

  • Secure rubbish bin lids with ropes, weights or bungee cords. Or, purchase bins with clamp lids.
  • Use stakes to stabilise side handles to prevent possums from toppling rubbish bins over.
  • Avoid open compost piles. Instead, secure and cover compost containers.
  • Feed pets indoors. Alternatively, feed pets outdoors in the late morning or middle of the afternoon.
  • Feed pets away from pet doors or other openings.
  • Clean barbeque grills immediately after use.
  • Gather dropped fruit from around bushes and trees as soon as they drop.
  • Avoid laying out bird seed. Otherwise, only provide bird seed in the late morning or middle of the afternoon and only enough for the given day.
  • Transfer bird feeders inside nightly before dusk.
  • Remove all sources of food or water before dusk.

Keep your property trim

Possums tend to make dens in appealing spaces, such as under decks and in roofs. However, they do like to hide in long grass, debris piles and tree branches.

 

  • Mow the grass on your property regularly to prevent tall grass from providing a convenient hiding spot.
  • Remove wood piles, including overturned barrels, planters, etc.
  • Clean up grass clippings and other waste material quickly.
  • Place climbing plants away from your house. These plants provide an easy method for possums to access the eaves and other vulnerable areas of your home.
  • Trim tree branches so that they hang at least 3 metres away from the roof.

Follow good house cleaning practises

Keeping the inside of your home clean and tidy helps prevent possums as well.

  • Gather and wash dishes right after eating.
  • Eat in the kitchen or dining room only.
  • Clean up spills and crumbs immediately.
  • Avoid leaving food out for lengthy periods (or overnight).