Hello Possums - Possums & Humans

Possums interaction with humans

Possums are commonly found in suburban areas, where they are often considered pests owing to their habit of eating fruit, vegetables, flowers and tender young shoots from gardens, and nesting in roofs. The loud hissing, crackling territorial call of the male Common Brushtail may also be a problem for suburban residents. Natural deterrents which play upon the possum's acute sense of smell are often employed to discourage them. These include cloves of garlic, camphor or naphthalene. As a native species possums are protected by regulations, even when they reside in urban neighbourhoods, and cannot be baited. They cannot be killed as pests, and if captured the regulations stipulate that they must be released within a small radius of that locality, since they are territorial creatures. Preventative measures such as blocking off their access to the roof spaces or building a possum nesting box for an alternative home are instead recommended. The Possum's rank odour is due to it's over-sized musk glands located behind each ear.

Although the Common Brushtail and (to a lesser extent) ringtail possums have adapted well to the urban environment, many of the lesser-known species are reduced in number, threatened, or endangered.

A possum is any of about 63 small to medium-sized arboreal marsupial species native to Australia, New Guinea and Sulawesi. The name derives from their resemblance to the opossums of the Americas and, unlike most names applied to Australian fauna in the early years of European colonisation, happens to be accurate: the opossums of America are distant relatives. (The name is from Algonquian wapathemwa, not Greek or Latin, so the plural is possums, not possa.) Possum is also used in North America as a diminutive for the Virginia Opossum. The Possum's rank odour is due to it's over-sized musk glands located behind each ear.

Possums are small marsupials with brown or grey fur, ranging in size from the length of a finger (pygmy possums and wrist-winged gliders), to the length of a forearm (brushtails and ringtails). All possums are nocturnal and omnivorous, hiding in a nest in a hollow tree during the day and coming out during the night to forage for food. They fill much the same role in the Australian ecosystem that squirrels fill in the northern hemisphere and are broadly similar in appearance.

The two most common species of possums, the Common Brushtail and Common Ringtail, are also among the largest.