Weaver and Poppy. Two brushtail possums occupying a nesting box.

Noises in the roof can be caused by rodents, birds nesting or possums. Rats make light scampering and gnawing sounds compared with a possum's heavy thumping and gutteral hisses. Possums are nocturnal, usually you can hear them leaving the roof cavity when it is dark and when they return in the early hours of the morning.

Simply removing the possum from your roof will not solve the problem. The law states that possums must be released within 50 metres of site of capture, and if you remove one possum, another will simply move into the roof to take its place. The key is to block the roof once the possum is out to prevent re-entry, and to provide an alternative sleeping place for the possum.

Arrange a possum box in any tree large enough to take it, with a feeding platform nearby (which can be an enamel plate nailed securely to a branch), this will give the possum an alternative to living in your roof. Possums are territorial and will defend your garden from others. If one possum is removed there are others waiting to move in!

Use the feeding platform to put pieces of fruit cut into small portions (apple, corn on cob, pear, rockmelon etc.), do this one to two times a week, so they do not become reliant on having food provided.

The roof needs to be checked for points of entry. During the day check inside the roof for daylight showing through gaps and put a light in the roof cavity at night for at least 3 nights to discourage the possum (you may also be able to see where they enter by checking the outside for light showing through). Sprinkle camphor blocks or napthalene flakes around the inside of the roof (do not mix them as this will cause a chemical reaction), as possums do not like the smell or brightly lit areas.

Block up all gaps with suitable building materials. This must be done at night when the possum has left. Make a one way flap to allow possums to leave the roof at night but not return. The flap can be metal or perspex with a hinge at the top. Cover the flap surrounds in metal to prevent claws from gripping.

Should any possum be left behind in the roof, use a possum trap to catch the marsupial and release it into your garden in the evening to live in the nesting box. If a trap is used it must be checked every morning and if a possum is caught, keep the trap covered in a quiet place until release. Do not release a trapped possum during the day – they are nocturnal and must be released at dusk or early evening. If it is a very young possum then contact a wildlilfe carer in your area as mother possums often do not return for their babies once they have been disturbed.

Prune branches leading to the roof leaving a gap of at least 1.5m around the roof. Put collars around the trunks of trees that give access to the roof. Use a 60cm wide sheet metal or perspex and fit 60cm above ground. Contact electricity or telecommunication companies for advice on possum proofing transmission wires.

If any possum has missing fur and cracked, oozing skin, or is active during the day, use a trap to catch the animal and take it to your nearest vet, wildlife authority, as it probably has stress dermatitis.

Possums, like many other species of wildlife do live in the suburbs and should NOT be removed from their own area.

The law in South Australia requires a possum trapped in the roof to be released no more than 50meters from the capture site. Usually, this requires release on the same property on which they were trapped. To trap and release a possum you are required to apply for a Trap and Release Permit from the Department of Environment and Heritage. This permit needs to be obtained before the animal is trapped.

It is illegal and cruel to 'dump' them in another area where they will have little chance of survival.

When relocation of a healthy possum is unavoidable contact your local wildlife authority to see if there are any rehabilitation programmes that prepare a possum for another area. Possums released without this special preparation have very little chance of survival.

For more information about your legal obligations and options available go to the Department of Environment and Heritage website.
How to... deal with possums in your roof