Hello Possums

Maroondah Possums
Maroondah’s community puts great importance on its tree canopy and the abundant wild fauna that reside in our municipality’s trees. This means that as residents of Maroondah, we need to learn to coexist with the birds and animals, they enrich our environment. There are specifically two species of marsupials “Possums”, that we need to live with.

The Brushy tail
The brushy-tail possum, about the size of a domestic cat with a very cute face, a pink twitching nose, a darker bushy tail and sharp claws. This species loves to literally get into our homes to enjoy the same comforts we do, safety, warmth, protection from the elements, and also darkness during daytime. This makes our roofs an ideal space to inhabit. These possums can be quite brave around humans and will tolerate being hand fed fruit sometimes, though it is not recommended to make wild life dependent on humans for food. And definitely do NOT feed them human food.

                                                                 Brush tailed possum

The Ring Tail
The second type is the ring tail, a much smaller animal, about the body size of a kitten or guinea pig, with a curled tail becoming white near the tip, and bare skinned on the inner surface, for better grip. Ring- tails build a nest of twigs and leaves, often in trees high up above the ground. The balled mass of dry vegetation is about the size of a toilet seat. It is oval in shape, and the entry is on the side. It is not flat on top like a birds nest. These possums are more timid of humans and rarely intrude on our lives. Unfortunately they will come to ground for water when that is scarce, and that is when many, are caught by cats. Especially if cats are left out at night, they will hunt!

                                                                 Ringtail possum

I rescued a possum. Will it survive?
Possums rarely need to build an immune system to deal with soil bacteria, as they are tree dwellers. So when they get scratched by a cat claw, the subsequent infection is generally fatal.
Often, when the mother possum is killed by a cat, there may be a tiny newborn in the pouch, so you will need to look, it may be still alive. If it is, leave it there till the dead mother is delivered to the rescue shelter, they will be better equipped to deal with it, and it will be kept safe and dark till then. Brushy tails, have only one offspring at a time. The ringtail will commonly have twins or even triplets.

What should I do, with the injured possum?
Do not attempt to handle a possum that is injured with your bare hands, it will viciously scratch you to ribbons, fearing being trapped.
Protecting your own hands and body, wrap the possum in an old towel, over the face as well, to allow it to feel safe in the dark.

Go to http://www.rspcavic.org
Look for “injured wildlife”, scroll down. There is information on emergency care for the short term.

I can’t do this myself, who do I contact?

The RSPCA enquiries 9224 2222

The possum lady Yvonne Cowling in Boronia, you will need to be able to deliver the possum to her shelter. PH : 9762 3803

They are driving me crazy, what can I do?

Here are some strategies for dealing with possums. As they are extremely intelligent animals they will look for loose tiles or boards and will work to gain access to dark, dry and comfortable homes.

  • Keep a check on eaves, roofing, even exhaust flues above showers etc.
  • The most ideal solution is to provide nesting boxes. Look on line for designs, see link below.
  • Block all entrance points (after dark when the possums have come out).
  • Use collars around fruit trees, if you don’t wish to share you tastiest fruit.
  • Understand and appreciate the need to keep old mature trees with hollows, which are the most sought after form of housing of the brushy tailed possum.


This site from Sydney has some very useful information in a printable leaflet.

Can I trap and relocate my roof residents?
No longer is the trapping and relocating of possums considered to be an effective way of dealing with unwanted roof residents. It seldom solves the problem, since another possum usually moves in to the vacated territory. The captured and released possum may displace other wildlife such as owls or gliders. And the released possum finding itself in unfamiliar territory will be at increased risk of being killed by cars, foxes, dogs or another dominant possum who’s territory he is imposing on. Most councils will no longer hire out cages for the purpose of trapping possums for relocation. Remember, you are living in a reasonably dense treed environment and, as such, you must expect to encounter wildlife.

Is this a legal issue?
There is actually a fine for relocating possums, further than 50 meters of their original location. It is both illegal and inhumane, it carries a fine of $5,000.