For some time I've been hearing scratching noises coming from above our kitchen ceiling. These usually occur just after it gets dark when I'm starting to make dinner. I became convinced that these sounds come from a possum, waking from its daytime sleep in our roof space, and heading out for a night of chewing our magnolia buds, eucalyptus leaves, and fruit scraps from our compost heap. It didn't me take long to identify a hole through which a possum could enter & exit. The hole had been blocked with chicken wire by my father about 50 years ago, but the wire had corroded and broken, leaving easy access for the nocturnal Common Ringtail Possum, Pseudocheirus peregrinus. These had previously made my garage roof their home and I see plenty around the suburb at night.So on Monday night I took a torch outside for a stakeout. At about 6pm I saw a ringtail possum just outside what I had identified as the likely entry point into the roof space. It ran off when I climbed the ladder onto the roof. So I placed a piece of timber over the hole and added a couple of bricks to hold the timber in place to block the entry point. I went to bed that night assuming I had fixed the problem.
Michael 1, Possum 0On Tuesday morning I found the bricks and timber had been pushed out of the entrance hole, breaking a roof tile in the process. Presumably the possum was once again inside the roof. I then spent some time trying to fix the broken tile, eventually having to cover the break with some lead flashing because I couldn't remove the broken tile.
Michael 1, Possum 1After fixing the broken tile on Tuesday I devised a new barrier, determined not to let this possum beat me. I then waited until sunset and watched. It wasn't long until I saw a ringtail possum. But this possum was in a tree next to the house and didn't seem to be heading towards the entry point into the roof. It moved off into a eucalyptus to have dinner. I knew from my reading on Tuesday that ringtail possums usually have a number of nests and they might sleep in a different one from their usual place if they feel threatened. I wondered whether this possum had felt uncomfortable with spending the night in my roof and had just emerged from its second bed. I kept watch and didn't have to wait long before I sighted a second possum - this time actually emerging from the access hole into my roof space. It quickly disappeared into the night. It was raining lightly, but I couldn't let this opportunity go. I climbed up onto the slippery, wet roof and installed my new barrier. In the morning the barrier was intact, and presumably the possum had spent the night in its spare bedroom, hopefully not in my roof.
Michael 2, Possum 1
Can I declare victory? Has the possum been successfully evicted from my roof space? I'm not sure. But at this stage I'm (uncharacteristically) optimistic. In the camellia tree you can see in the background of the picture above, I spotted what might be a possum's nest (a 'drey').
A closer look from a ladder suggests that this is, in fact, a ringtail possum bedroom.
Well, I'm happy for the possums to live in my trees, I guess, even if I never see another flower on my magnolia. They were here before magnolias arrived, after all.
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