What can I do if I have a possum in my roof?

Western ringtail  possums may cause some inconvenience however it is possible to minimise the impact possums have on your house.  If you have possums in your roof removing them will not solve the long term problem as it will only leave a vacant, possum smelling roof space, ready for another possum to move take up residence.  There is also a problem with relocating possums as studies have shown relocated possums seldom survive.  Most are killed by foxes or dogs, crossing roads or die of starvation as they are unable to secure vacant territory. The best techniques for deterring possums are outlined below:

  1. If possible get into your roof space to determine whether the problem is mice, rats and/or possums.   To see exactly what is in your roof, take a look for:   :
    1. Droppings.  Possum scats are about 2cm long and 1cm wide while mice and rat scats are just over 1cm long and a maximum of 0.5cm wide (see diagrams below).
    2. The lingering smell of rats and mice is quite distinctive from possums.
    1. Rats and mice chew electrical wires while possums don’t.


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Brushtail possum scat

Ringtail possum scat

Black Rat Scat

House mouse scats

If you think you have mice or rats however are concerned possums may also enter your roof space it is possible to poison rats and mice without poisoning possums.  One method is to place the poison out of possum reach, inside poly pipe secured to a beam in your roof space.  The pipe should be about 1m long and no greater than 50mm in diameter.  Another option is to place a plastic icecream container with small arches upsidedown over rat poison.  The arches should be a maximum height and width of about 50mm  and the container secured to a rafter.

  1. By careful observation just after dusk it should be possible to discover the access points the possum is using.  These may also be obvious during the day as access points will often have some fur and staining around them.  Access points may also be visible from inside the roof space during the day.
  2. Block all potential access points to the roof during the day leaving the observed access point open.  Materials such as sheet metal, vinyl, wood and wire, with a mesh size smaller than 20mm are useful.  The material should be fitted snugly to ensure the possum can not get a claw hold and move the cover off the hole.
  3. After dusk the possum will leave the roof to feed.  At this point you can block the remaining access point.  Another technique is to fit a one way flap made out of metal or perspex to the observed access point, to allow the possum out but not back in.
  4. To prevent possums climbing on to the roof you may need to trim back overhanging branches as well as trees and shrubs against your house.

Please note that it is a serious offence to poison or harm native fauna and a $10 000 fine may be applied. 

Information provided courtesy of the Department of Parks and Wildlife.