Distinctive features: Furry body, long bushy tail, shorter front legs, pair of fused toes on hind feet, protruding brown eyes, pointed snout with pink nose, pointed ears without fur on the inside.
Size: Similar size to a cat.
Droppings: Crescent shaped pellets, in groups or single.
Footprints: Five-toed fore-feet, different hind-feet, claw marks.
Kill signs: Messy eaters, regurgitated pellets, egg shell fragments pushed into the egg.
Vegetation damage: Ragged edges on leaves, often in tree tops. Partially eaten leaves, leaf stems, fruits and flowers on the ground. Bark chews and scratches.
Eye shine: Red
WHY ARE POSSUMS PESTS?
Possums threaten ecology because they can increase to population densities where their browsing pressure can defoliate canopy and understorey vegetation. They also compete with and prey on our native fauna.
Possums damage our native forests by browsing on foliage, flowers and fruit, especially of some preferred plant species. Their browsing can reduce flowering and fruiting, kill trees, and result in forest canopy collapse. The forest’s ability to regenerate is reduced because fewer seeds are produced. Some possum-preferred plant species have disappeared in some areas
Because possums eat the same food that native birds rely on the food available for native fauna is reduced. Less food means reduced breeding success for native birds and insects.
Possum competition and predation can also cause bird populations to decline. Possums compete for nest sites with hole-nesting birds such as kiwi, parakeets and saddlebacks, and eat the eggs, nestlings and adults of native birds. Possums eat large native land snails like Wainuia, Powelliphanta and Placostylus, which include many rare species. A single possum can eat more than 60 Powelliphanta per night!
Is there anything awesome about possums?
I have this weird relationship with possums — in that I hate them but they keep showing up in my neighborhood. The latest encounter came as we were walking our dog late one night, in the rain. As I kept my eyes down to avoid stepping in giant mud puddles, I heard my son say, “What is THAT?”
Possums will eat anything — grubs and other insects, small snakes, trash on the side of the road, even dead animals. “They’re kind of nature’s disposal,” he said. “They get rid of a lot of the things that other animals won’t touch. In the city, they’ll be the ones that clean up the road kill.”
“They’re constantly grooming,” he said. Which brings us back to the ticks: “They literally will groom all the ticks off themselves and eat them. They’re the only real animal that does that.”
Possums also don’t seem to be a known carrier of many diseases or viruses, including Lyme disease, which is borne by ticks, he said. One hypothesis is that the possum’s slow metabolism makes it a poor host for viruses, which want to reproduce quickly.
Possums roam the neighborhood at night hunting for food and like to find a secluded place to nest during the day — in a burrow, woodpile or crawl space, beneath a porch or shed, or even in an overgrown patch of bushes.
acknowledges that possums are prevalent in the Burnside area and they can cause significant distress to some residents. Possums are native to this area and we would like to find ways to live harmoniously together. Although possums may cause disruptions when they decide to inhabit your property, they are not unmanageable. offers the following solutions to residents.
Possum Nest Boxes
The clearing of Adelaide’s original bushland has resulted in the loss of natural nesting hollows in old trees. can mimic natural hollows by installing nesting boxes to help provide possum homes and deter them from living in roof cavities by supplementing naturally occurring hollows with nesting boxes, providing native food plants and retaining vegetation corridors you are sustainably supporting these extraordinary suburban neighbours.
Private Contractor Services
Pest controllers providing a possum removal service require a permit from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. This permit grants approval for a pest controller to trap and release possums on behalf of the landholder onto the landholder’s property within 50 metres of the capture site. Ask the pest controller to show you a copy of their permit or ask for their permit number.
Possum traps allow for the removal of possums from your roof cavity so that you may block up access points. Once a possum is trapped it is illegal to remove it from your property and therefore must be released back into your property, within 50 metres of the capture site, within 24 hours. It is also illegal to trap possums without a permit.
The opossum is a medium-sized mammal, about the size of a house cat, with gray to black fur, a pink nose, naked ears, and an almost hairless prehensile tail (able to grasp, hold or wrap around). They are North America’s only marsupial. They are solitary, slow moving animals who are most active at night, when they wander randomly in search for food.
Although they are excellent climbers and have been known to live in tree cavities, they prefer to den on the ground in old woodchuck burrows, brush/wood piles, and even in spaces under decks or patios. Opossums are omnivorous and are beneficial to humans because they cause very little damage and they consume undesirable insects, snails, and slugs.
The many beneficial qualities of Opossums include:
Keeping neighborhoods clear of unwanted pests like cockroaches, rats, and mice.
Reducing the Lyme disease carrying tick population, eating nearly 95% that cross their path.
Resistance to snake venom, and eat venomous species.
An extremely low risk of contracting rabies!
Keeping gardens blooming by eating snails, slugs, and fallen, overripe fruit
Opossums are usually shy and harmless animals, with two main defense mechanisms. First, if an opossum is frightened and unable to flee, she may display her teeth and hiss. Although this behavior might appear fierce, it is usually just a warning. Second, if they feel they are in real danger, they might “play possum” and have the appearance of being dead. When the opossum feels that he is no longer in danger, he will revive himself and move on.
The life span of opossums is very short. A four-year old wild opossum is a rarity. The average female probably lives through one breeding season in which time she may raise two litters of approximately a dozen young. Once born, the young instinctively crawl upward into the mother’s pouch where they will nurse for approximately fifty days. When they grow to be approximately 3 – 4 inches long, they crawl out of their mother’s pouch and ride around on their mother’s back. If they fall off, their mother may not notice because they are so small. They are independent of their mother at about three months old. These large litters help accommodate for the high mortality rate opossums face.
DIY stink bomb to deter possums
How to make a stink bomb
Simply grab an old sock and fill it with a handful of blood and bone fertiliser. Identify the possum’s main point of entry to your garden and secure your stink bomb to block their path.
LED lights to deter possums
“We’d tried everything to stop possums eating the plants on our front deck, which they accessed via a large lilli pilli. Chicken wire cages over the pots were successful but unsightly. But since we put up some solar LED bud lights in the lilli pilli, we haven’t seen a possum at all and the lights look very pretty at night,” one reader wrote.
Fish oil to deter possums
Additionally, another reader came up with a way to stop possums eating their rose shoots using fish oil.
“Add about half a cup of oil to one litre of water and spray it on the shoots. It won’t harm the roses but the possums hate the smell. Naturally, you’ll have to put more on after it rains but it works a treat and is very cheap.”