Photo Brush tailed Possum 2 Martin Stokes
Photo Brush tailed Possum 2 Martin Stokes

What to do if there’s a possum in your roof

20 Feb. 2024 4 min read

Do you have an uninvited furry housemate? Here’s your guide on what to do when possums have taken up residence in your roof.

Possums are regular visitors to South Australian gardens, especially common brushtail and common ringtail possums.

Both are nocturnal, but brushtail possums are about the size of a cat, with bushy black tails, thick grey fur and large ears, while ringtails are also grey, but are smaller, with small ears, and skinny, white-tipped tails.

What to do if there’s a possum in your roof
L: common brushtail possum (photo: Martin Stokes). R: common ringtail possum (photo: Martin Stokes)

Brushtails favour big old gum trees with hollows to nest in, but unfortunately because of urbanisation, these are becoming few and far between. This can force them to look for alternative accommodation – and that may mean your roof.

Ringtails also nest in trees, but unlike brushtails they don’t usually like sheltering in your roof.

How do you know if there is a possum in your roof?

Being nocturnal, possums are generally most active at night. If you suspect you’re sharing your house with a possum, you may be experiencing things like:

  • heavy bangs on your ceiling or roof at night as they run around
  • stains on your ceiling or a strong ammonia smell caused by their urine
  • property damage from chewing or scratching.

It’s also possible that what you’re experiencing may be the results of rats or mice. If you can safely access your roof, one way to make sure is by identifying the animal’s droppings.

What to do if there’s a possum in your roof
Photo: Tony Crittenden

What can you do if there’s a possum in your roof?

Although it may be frustrating to have an unwanted house guest, it’s important to remember that possums aren’t pests and are protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

That means if you do want to get one out of your roof, you must do it humanely and have the appropriate permits where required (or check that your pest controller has them).

Remember, if a possum is sheltering in your roof, it might mean it is the safest place they have to go. We should do our best to live with them when we can.

Top tips for living with possums in your roof:

  • Prevent possums from entering your roof by blocking entry points, creating one-way exits and trimming overhanging branches. You must only do this when the possum is not in your house, which is likely to be at night.
  • Provide wildlife nest boxes in your garden as alternative homes – this may prompt the possum to move out on their own.
  • Hire a licenced possum pest controller.
  • Apply for a permit to trap and release possums and follow the guidelines.

Top tips for trapping and releasing possums:

  • You will require a Trap and Release Protected Wildlife permit from the Department for Environment and Water, and you must follow the guidelines and conditions of this permit.
  • You can loan or hire a possum trap for use on your property from some local councils or from a private hire company. You should obtain a permit before you borrow or hire a trap.
  • Trapping activities must be complemented with other possum-proofing efforts to achieve a long-term solution. Otherwise, the possum may simply return.
  • Possums can only be trapped inside your roof space or built structure. It is unlawful to trap a possum in your garden or anywhere else.
  • It is unlawful to release a possum more than 50 m away from your home.
  • If you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, consider simply hiring a licenced possum pest controller.

To learn more, check out this video from our friends at Green Adelaide:

For resources and additional information, be sure to check out the Department for Environment and Water’s website.

Liked this one? Learn more about how we can live harmoniously with our native animals by uncovering how to keep the wild in wildlife.

(Main image courtesy of Martin Stokes)


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