Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Possum Magic


Nearly two months ago I installed a nest box (made from 100% recycled material) in a large Marri tree at the front of our place in Mt. Helena. This was not long after we sighted the fella in the photo above in our backyard. I’ve checked it about twice to see if we’ve had anything move in - but no luck.

A few nights ago I saw two possums foraging in the canopy of the Marri trees in our backyard - so checked all my boxes (I have 4!) immediately, but still didn’t find any residents.

This morning I was raking leaves out the front when I noticed tufts of possum fur on the floor. As I looked harder, I could see little bits floating down from a branch high up, around which I then noticed were wads and wads of more fur. Maybe the possum’s had had a fight? Someone had lost lots of fur! As this branch was in the ‘nest box tree’, I borrowed my neighbours’ ladder (thanks to my wonderful friendly neighbours) and scrambled up for a look. Sure enough, laying curled up asleep at the bottom of the nest box was a beautiful Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). Our first resident!


These possums are often known for living in people’s roofs, which unfortunately can lead to them being trapped and moved. Possums are highly sensitive animals and translocations can very often cause the possums to die. This is usually because the area to which they are moved has other possums already living there - so the newcomers get driven out... to their death.

A great solution is to install a Nest Box in your garden - all you need is a reasonably tall tree. Possums may not move in straight away, but at least they can get used to the box (especially if you ‘bait’ it with some fresh apple or banana!), and if you wire off your eaves a bit at a time, these arboreal animals will be happy to move house. It’s best to do some detective work first: check along your roof and try to locate the exact spot where the possum comes in and out of your roof cavity - this spot should have traces of fur caught on the bricks or wood. When you locate the spot, you can start wiring off the rest of the gaps under the roof, and leave the ‘possum hole’ until last. After you’ve installed a nest box, make sure the possum has found it before closing up the last hole. You might even like to sit quietly one evening and watch the possum emerge.

This is exactly how I spent the evening tonight. Eager to ‘meet’ my new friend, I crept outside and sat a little way back from the nest box tree, equipped with a torch and my camera. After only a couple of minutes (right on dusk), I heard scratching coming from inside the box, and was excited to see this very cute expert climber emerge. (Please note that the 'blood' on the tree looks a bit suspicious but it's just sap from the tree!). So many times nature’s ‘problems’ can be solved with a balanced solution that benefits both humans and wildlife.

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