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City of Greater Dandenong Animal Management

City of Greater Dandenong Animal Management

Living with Possums

Possums are a native fauna species that have learnt to adapt to the urban environment. They are one of the only large native mammals that can still be seen in the inner city and outer suburbs.

There are two species of possum within the Greater Melbourne area, the Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and the Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus). Both species are nocturnal, sleeping during the day and becoming active at night. They feed on new leaves, flower buds, and fruit, as well many introduced plants that have been planted in gardens, yards and parks.

About the Brushtail Possum

The Common Brushtail Possum is the larger of the two possums and is a solitary animal that grows to about the size of a cat. It has grey fur, large pointed ears and a large, black, brush type tail.

Brushtail Possums usually spend their day sleeping in tree hollows. Hollows are holes found in the trunk or branches of trees. Instead of using a hollow the Ring Tail Possum builds a nest called a drey. Loss of natural habitat due to clearing for housing and industrial development has forced possums to move into domestic roofs and gardens.

As well as leaves, flower buds, and fruit, the Brushtail Possum will also eat bird’s eggs, baby birds and some types of fungi.

About the Ringtail Possum

The Ringtail Possum is much smaller than the Brushtail Possum. It is about half the size of a cat, has a long thin tail with a white tip that it uses for climbing and holding onto branches. It has small rounded ears, and its fur is commonly dark on the back and rust coloured on its sides. Ringtail Possums are very social and live in family groups.

Living with possums

Living with possums is a part of Australian life. Watching possums run along fencelines or powerlines in the evening can be very exciting. However, when possums take up residence in your roof or eat valuable flowers and fruit trees they can be very frustrating. But it is possible for possums and humans to live in harmony together by taking a few simple steps.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries website contains a range of information on how to deal with possums on your property, including information on possums boxes and possum deterrents.

Please note that possums are protect species under the Wildlife Act 1975 and must not be harmed in any way or kept without authority. Only Common Brushtail Possums living in buildings can be trapped, and only for the purpose of releasing them on the same property or taking them to a registered vet for euthanasia. Relocation of possums is prohibited. Common Ringtail Possums remain fully protected and may not be trapped. Breaching any of these regulations carries heavy penalties.