Fun Possum Facts for Kids
Possums are iconic Aussie animals. Their cute and fluffy appearance coupled with their non-aggressive nature makes them firm wildlife favourites. These beautiful night-time visitors may thud around on our rooftops or cheekily nibble our garden herbs, but we’re so lucky to have such amazing animals right in our own backyards! If your Brisbane Kids love possums, they’ll love these fun possum facts. If you’re not so sure about our little furry friends, we also have some tips for loving living with possums!
Fun possum facts
- There are 23 possum species in Australia. The most common species are the common brushtail possum and the common ringtail possum.
- The largest species of possum is the cuscus.
- Possums are also native to Papua New Guinea and Sulawesi, and are also found as an introduced species in New Zealand and China.
- While some species of possum are common, several are endangered, such as the black-spotted cuscus, which is critically endangered.
- A female possum is called a ‘Jill’, a male possum is called a ‘Jack’, and a young possum is called a ‘Joeys’.
- A group of possums is called a passel.
- Possums can live for up to 11 years.
- Possums are nocturnal marsupials.
- Most possums live in the hollows of tall trees, but the common ringtail possum builds nests known as ‘dreys’ in bushes or trees.
- Possums mainly eat eucalyptus and other leaves. They also eat nectar, flowers and fruit.
- While possums are mainly herbivores, they have also been known to eat insects and birds’ eggs.
- Possums can make all sorts of noises, from grunts and growls to clicks, hisses and screeches.
- Most possums are solitary animals, except when raising their young, but ringtail possums tend to live in family groups of three or more.
- Possums are protected wildlife in Australia. Without certain permits, it is against the law to trap, hunt or kill possums.
Loving living with possums
To some people, possums are welcome visitors, but to others, possums are seen as a pest, especially when they live in your roof space, run around noisily at night, or eat your fruit and veggies from your gardens. The good news is that there are some simple things we can do to make sure that everyone loves living with possums!
Possums in the roof
If there is a possum living in your roof space, most people tend to call a licenced possum relocator to remove the possum. However, this is not often a long-term solution. The relocator can only release the possum within 25 metres of where it was caught, since taking it further would most likely cause the possum to die due to not being able to find a suitable home and food within the new territory. The possum would then come back and try to find another entry point to its home.
The best solution is to provide a nest box in your yard for the possum to move into. Here is a plan for a simple nest box you can make yourself. There are also some tips here on how to possum proof your roof once you have provided the possum with alternative accommodation. Alternatively, you can put quassia chips in or around the entry to deter the possums from entering.
Possums eating fruit and vegetables
If possums are eating the fruit from your fruit trees, you can wrap thin sheet metal around the trunks of the trees to stop them from climbing up. You can also use light shade cloth or white bird netting to cover plants at night or wrap fruit, or you can enclose your veggie garden with chicken wire. You can also make a spray from quassia chips that can be sprayed around your plants to keep possums away. A recipe for the spray can be found at herbcottage.com.au.
Once the possums are off your roof and fruit trees, you can start to enjoy these amazing creatures. You can plant native plants to attract possums and other wildlife, such as banksias, bottle brushes, eucalyptus trees, lilly pillies and paper bark trees. You can find more pant species for attracting wildlife and further information at wildcare.org.au.
You can also enjoy possums by doing some night-time possum spotting. Kids love wildlife spotting, and it can be a fun and rewarding activity to do together. They could even keep a field journal of the wildlife they see. Fostering in our kids an appreciation of the natural wonders around them has to be one of the best ways of ensuring the future protection of our planet, and that’s pretty awesome!
Above all, we need to remember to respect and cherish these wonderful creatures. We’ve chopped down the trees they use for dens and foraging to make way for our homes, and rather than dying out, they have adapted to living alongside us. And how lucky we are that they have!
For more information on possums in Queensland, visit the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website at ehp.qld.gov.au.