Possum Information

All About Possums,their lives and their control.

All countries have their own version of the Possum. New Zealand and Australia have the Brush tail possum and America has their Virginia possum. The Virginia possum is the only marsupial found in the United States. The saying “playing possum” comes from these small animals pretending to be dead when under threat from another source.
They have all become at ease in the backyards and gardens of suburbia in all the countries they are found. After discovering, a hole in the eaves of a house or garage makes a great shelter from the weather. They move in and take up residence very easily.
You know they are there, by the considerable noise they make moving around.

In order to eliminate this, when a new house is built, it is built to expect that there would be no possible entry for the possums.
When you already have a resident possum, you will be aware of their movements, so when you know they have gone out for the night. You may be able to see them leave if you have not found the point of entry. Another way is listening for where the loudest noises are in your roof and having a good look during the day for the exit.
Climb into the roof space with a flashlight and try to locate the animal while it is sleeping to ascertain the area that it is likely to be coming and going from, and follow the clues. Be aware that they can get into some very small holes.

When you have temporarily blocked the exit at night, you will need to effect a strong repair the next day. Possums can be very persistent and want to get back into their home.
Wash the exterior with something with a strong smell in order to eliminate the possum smell. It may be worth trying ammonia, camphor to distract the possums.
How did they get up into the roof? Are there trees that give them easy access? The obvious is to eliminate any means they have of reaching the hole in the building.

They can also reach a house by power lines. Place a meter band of metal around the pole in order to lessen their grip and stop them from climbing it to reach the lines.
Cut any tree branches that are close to the house and are a possible means of entry.
In Australia, they are a protected species so encouraging them not to eat your garden can be difficult. You may have to give them their own food. They do like apples and bread. Cover important plants with their own netting enclosure.

In New Zealand, they are hunted to eliminate them. It is unlikely they will ever be eradicated so we all have learn to live with them, as far as possible within the laws of the land.

More facts on a Brushtail Possum

This cute little possum (Trichosurus Vulpecula) introduced to New Zealand as a means for people to start a fur trade; unfortunately, the possum liked what it saw and has become a pest. In its homeland of Australia, it is a protected animal. Its numbers kept under control by other predators.
 In New Zealand, however there are only feral cats, people and cars!

They spread diseases amongst livestock, including humans. The two most notable being Tuberculosis and Leptospirosis. The other damage they cause affects crops, native bush, trees and wild life. The possum is a nocturnal animal, spending its nights traveling, grooming, feeding and interacting within their social group although this is more common in the breeding season.

Days are spent in their dens. These dens may be found generally above ground in the hollows of trees, woolsheds, and garages. They are found in dens underground in old burrows and holes, logs, tree roots and occasionally in dense vegetation.  They change their dens up to 10-15 times a year. Certainly if you discover a possum and you go back to remove or kill it chances are it has moved on.

The possums start to become visible in the twilight, if they are seen during the day; it is highly likely to be a sick animal.  Possums spend a good part of the night in trees but also a lot of time on the ground feeding and moving around. They are affected by the weather, and a wet windy miserable night will reduce the numbers around or maybe hunters just do not spend the same amount of time in such weather!

Studies have shown that the opossum has a tendency to stay with in a certain range the males having a larger area than the female. This varies according to the area in which it lives either forests or pasture or a mix of the two. It has been tracked up to approximately to 500-600 meters from its den in search of food.

They also move considerable distances if there is a well-kept garden with fruit such as apples, they like roses and lemons, grapefruit. Annoyingly taking bites from a single fruit and then going on to another.

Brazilian Short Tailed Opossum Care

I’ve had many questions on how to care for these animals. This quick video explains some of the basics. Here is some repeated + more information. Brazilian Short Tailed Opossums: In nature STO’s could be considered scavengers. They will eat a variety of things from fruits, veggies, nuts, and insects, to small rodents. They are small animals only reaching about 5″ body length. Cage – STO’s love to run around. Provide the largest cage possible. 1/4″ or 1/2″ bar spacing. Inside the cage you need a wheel, food dish, water bottle, and sleeping area/hide. Food – For their food dish which should be kept full at all times: Dog food, cat food, ferret food, sugar glider food, hedgehog food. “Treats” such as fruits, veggies, worms, chicken, or rodents should be fed 3 to 4 nights a week. *If you feed rodents – please only feed pinkie or fuzzy mice live. Adult mice pose a threat to your STO. My STO’s have been raised on live foods. Lucy was born in my house, and she has eaten live rodents since she was 3 months old. She is a trained/experienced hunter. ***I am one of the few STO owners who feeds LIVE rodents! If you purchase a STO from a pet store or another breeder it is unlikely they have ever eaten a live rodent! This puts them at a MUCH GREATER risk of being bitten/hurt/killed by the mouse as they are un-experienced and may not know what to do! STO’s as pets: STO’s are wonderful pets! They can really connect/bond with their human. Some people even carry their STO’s around with

Baby Opossums

Baby Opossums raised and released by the Rainbow Wildlife Rescue at www.rainbowwildlife.com

As a wildlife rehabilitation and education facility, we see and hear every day how the public is misinformed, or uninformed, with respect to the opossum. Designed for children and adults, this video has been created as an education tool to show the opossum as it truly is, present facts, and to dispel some of the myths about this wonderful creature. TWRC is an urban wildlife emergency and rehabilitative care facility serving the Greater Houston area. Established in 1979, TWRC focuses on conservation, public education, and wildlife rehabilitation, and is operated by part-time staff and volunteers who are permitted rehabilitators and animal lovers. TWRC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which receives no federal or state funding. Because of this, we rely on individual, corporate, and foundation contributions to continue our efforts in preserving and caring for Texas wildlife. Visit us at www.twrc-houston.org or call 713-468-8972 to learn how you can become a volunteer or donate to our organization.

Animal break in!
Darien, IL

It was about 10pm last Tuesday, August the 24th, when Douglas, 62, a Darien, IL resident called about an opossum in her home that had fallen through ceiling tiles and knocked over a grandfather clock. I was a little skeptical as to what the culprit actually was.

Now as I always tell clients, “everything is possible with wildlife”. She insisted that she saw the opossum and it came in through the roof. However instinct and 13 years of wildlife handling told me I wasn’t about to wrangle a record sized opossum that tore its way through a roof and mowed down a grandfather clock, I would never argue of course.

2 minutes into my quest to find the “opossum” I looked under the couch to find two glowing eyes staring at me. If this was any percent possum, momma possum must have had jungle fever for a raccoon, cause what I was staring at was a ringed tail bandit. Camera rolling, I proceeded to noose the critter while trying to create an entertaining video of an “in home raccoon capture” with out anything breaking or being soiled by feces or urine. This adolescent raccoon was a B- on noose avoiding skills which is pretty slick, that coupled with the fact that the catch poles noose lost its shape after its fourth or fifth raccoon capture and it was now on its second season.

The raccoon made several passes from one end to the other which could have been cut short with a cage trap if one was available, since this was an after hours call tools were limited and capture was a must. After the raccoon had wedged him self behind a speaker, my chimney raccoon extraction skills unleashed themselves and it was on! As the raccoon begin to climb up to seek escape, he slipped through the noose that tightened on him just a split second before escaping. The raccoon was caught, removed from the home and the woman could rest assured that she could have a safe nights sleep.

Lesson to be learned here, as with all wildlife encounters that reach the breaking line of security. Make sure all points of entry have some security beyond just the factory screen meant to keep out bees and small birds. Most animals come through vents or fans with the only barrier being window screening that tears by hand. Animal proof all points of possible entry from the inside and be sure to use materials that will be stronger than the largest animal in your given area can get past. You would be surprised what animals can tear off and chew through.

Playing Dead

I was sitting in the kitchen the other night, when I heard a clatter on the back porch. I opened the door and there, with its nose buried in the cat dish, was a small opossum. He looked up at me somewhat startled-not that you can really startle an opossum-and then he ambled across the porch and clambered down the stairs into the night. He ambled as opposed to shuffled, because opossums usually shuffle where ever they go, but when they are frightened they break briefly into ambles.

This opossum was one of five that had first visited the kitty larder last summer on its mother’s back. She had stumbled on a goldmine: a magical dish that was almost always full of food. I assumed that she must have made some kind of deal with the cat because she visited quite often and the cat never seemed to object. It could have been that the cat thought that food from a can was more convenient than food in a hide, especially a hide equipped with teeth. Cats aren’t stupid. Why go after a meal that bites back? Anyway, now the whole family comes one at a time to visit the cat dish. Clambering up the steps, shuffling along the porch with that mouth-half-open-drooling look to the cat dish, to enjoy their repast.

I’ve been studying on them and wondering if they are as dumb as they look. Judging by their membership in the local road kill club I’d have to guess their IQ is somewhat wanting. About the only thing I knew about opossums was that they played dead if they got scared. This has led to an unfair characterization that the opossum is a coward. Well, let me tell you what I discovered. It is not easy to get an opossum to play dead. Growing up I always assumed that if you walked up to one-which is something you can do on account of their lethargic nature-and yelled BOO! They would conveniently roll over, clutch a daisy to their chest, and stick their feet in the air.

One night I heard the mother taking dinner out on the porch. I snuck to the door and flung it open shouting BOO! She hunched up and showed a rather impressive set of teeth. She then hissed like a bad tire valve and made a feint toward me. At no time did she even hint at playing dead. I stumbled backwards at her sudden show of defense and stumbled over the doorsill, sprawling on the kitchen floor. I quickly got up, ambled over and shut the door. She quietly returned to feeding her brood.

Her youngsters are not quite as fearsome. But that may be due to their age, or lack of kids to defend. At any rate, I got a slight clue that night as to the arrangements she’d made with the cat concerning her provisions. I thought that the cat had been catching more mice lately. There also has been a rumor going around the opossum community that humans play dead when frightened.

I was born to itinerate teachers February 16, 1960 in a tiny town, in a clinic beside a grain elevator, in eastern Washington. From there our family moved every two years around the state until I was 6.

At the age of 6 my parents moved to Nigeria, West Africa, where we stayed until I was 12. We then moved to New York City. After two years there We left after North Dakota and finally after that Maryland where I married the most beautiful bride and have been ever since.

I enjoy writing, making music, art, golf, and racquet ball.

Sharing the house with me and my wife is our youngest daughter, although she is gone quite a bit now–sigh, two dogs, Billy and Calvin, and two cats, Elvis and Felina Turtle Bean. (Don’t ask.)

Baby opossum calling for mom

I just got this baby opossum in and she is calling for her mom. She is making a sound that sounds like “che” or a little sneeze. Generally after a day they give up calling for mom. If you hear this sound, there is probably an orphaned opossum nearby. This opossum will be released back to the wild when she is able.

Conservation Hunting of Possums in NZ

In NZ the possum is regarded as a pest and is not protected. They number about70 million and rising and have no natural enemies. The possum is doing a lot of damage to native plants, animals and birds. Here Wayne Parsonson demonstrates his solution to the problem.

Pygmy Possums

This video is part of a story at climateXchange.aspacnet.org The video features Dr Linda Broome and Bec Gibson working with Australian alpine pygmy possums. The possums only weigh 40 g and are the only hibernating marsupial. Pygmy possums are threatened by a decline in the annual snowfall. They are also suffering from a shortage of food caused by drought, especially the migrating bogong moth. Pygmy possums are endangered, and there are only a thousand or so of them left in a few boulder fields above 1800 m in the NSW and Victorian Alps. The story was filmed at Charlotte Pass, a ski resort in Kosciuszko National Park.