Possums occur in a wide range of habitats from open country to deep in the forest, from rain forest to arid areas but tend to be rare at high altitudes (mountain tops). That is why handling this threat becomes a lot tougher than dealing with other pests. One single roof can be an excellent space for cohabiting possums, but when raucous disputes occur you’ll hear it. Possum crushing and incisor marks on chewcard. They are now widespread across most of New Zealand. Hedgehog prints are smaller and quite circular in outline. Possums attack pets or even humans with massively pointed teeth. Urban takeover. On one hand, having opossums around can be beneficial because they are known to eat harmful insects and annoying pests such as cockroaches, rats and snakes. This release was unsuccessful and a second release 20 years later at the same Southland location was required for them to establish. Possums can leave the ground littered with partially eaten leaves, flowers and fruits, and can leave chew marks and scratches on bark – but it can be one of many other culprits too! (Summary sentences) In Australia, lots of possums are killed by predators, or they die because they can’t get food. On the ground they eat seedlings, saplings and sometimes bark. Leaves are the main part of their diet, but possums are opportunistic omnivores. That being said, possums and gliders are variously protected species. Eggshell and other material are sometimes chewed into a 'pellet' that is coughed up. They eat leaves, flowers, leaf buds, fruit, eggs, birds, insects and snails. Heavy rain may delay possums from leaving their dens. Not the vegetation damage you were looking for? Possums. Rats, rabbits, hares, hedgehogs and kea can also crush chewcard margins. For further guidance, including numerous illustrated examples, see the Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research chewcard interpretation guide and other more technical identification guides. Animals who have been introduced to New Zealand are often described as pests and endure some of the worst treatment of all animals at the hands of humans. The size and weight of possums varies across New Zealand. A gentle wild neighbor, the opossum is our only backyard marsupial and is rarely guilty of more than "playing 'possum." I have possums in my back yard and lately the wood shingled roof on my gazebo is being attacked by a critter that is ripping off shingles with their claws, presumably eating insects living there. In this video you'll meet The Friends of Rotoiti, volunteer trappers helping control pests in Nelson Lakes National Park. This won’t be an option if you have pets or raise animals. Possums are mostly solitary but make a range of noises at night when there are other possums around including screeches, grunts, growls, hisses and chatters (aggressive), zook-zook noises and squeaks with dependent juveniles, and males make shook-shook and clicking noises when courting a female. When pests and predators were introduced they took a serious toll on the survival of our native plants, birds, reptiles and invertebrates, who were ill equipped to deal with the threat. Possums can walk, jump and bound and its prehensile tail helps it move around tree branches. 4 and 6.4 kg. Though raccoons and opossums (possum) are thought to be primarily rural animals, these two types of wildlife can become pests in homes, whether located in the country or the city. The stress and shock of the encounter actually triggers a comatose state that can last anywhere from 40 minutes to four hours. Have been eradicated from many off-shore islands, notably Rangitoto, Motutapu, Kapiti, Codfish, Whanganui and Tarakaipa, all of which have outstanding conservation importance. Possums have the tendency to eat whatever they can and take shelter anywhere they feel safe and warm, so your home’s roof makes a nice cosy dwelling. Pests such as possums, rats and stoats compete with our native birdlife for food and habitat. And while these pests are often grouped together, they have distinct differences when their diet, … Possums communicate by smell, scent-marking tree trunks with oil from special glands, and urine and droppings. … One of the worst pests in NZ, killing millions of native birds every year. They are now considered a major environmental pest. Department of Conservation. DOC is charged with the care of New Zealand's native plants and wildlife. Possums are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. And while these pests are often grouped together, they have distinct differences when their diet, … Share. In fact, a single opossum can eat up to 5,000 ticks a year, as found by the Environmental Institute of Houston. They only eat the leaf-stalks of some species, like fivefinger. Possums are diggers. ‘Opposum’ is what brushtail possums used to be called but now more commonly refers to a completely different marsupial from America. Wellington: Author. To find a safe and humane way to get rid of possums, raccoons, and other critters, you can call a professional. Possums were introduced from Australia in the mid-1800s to be used for fur. Short horizontal bark biting on bark are most likely to be possum. MA Branch. Partially eaten leaves, leaf stems, fruits and flowers on the ground. Other species can also crush chewcard margins so look for distinct tooth impressions that are identifiably possum. The backyard possum is considered an omnivore as well, feeding on fruits, nuts, insects, eggs and small animals like frogs and mice. Of course, when visited by a giant spider, most folks are not concerned with biodiversity imbalance. Possums also have ‘favourites’ such as rātā or kamahi trees, leading to an even greater impact on these species. They also compete with and prey on our native fauna. Footprints: Five-toed fore-feet, different hind-feet, claw marks. Which might necessitate their removal and relocation. Hedgehog sign is similar to that of thrushes. Possums have multiple scent glands including a red-brown gland on the chest between the front legs (sternal), near their bottoms and in the pouch region. The tail holds on to a branch until all feet are touching a solid surface. Adults weigh between 1. Possums can also cause some serious damage to your property by chewing on electrical wiring creating a fire hazard and an expensive problem to fix. Possums live in dens. Possums are nocturnal and can live anywhere where there is shelter and a varied food supply. Possums and gliders are natives. It is illegal to harass or interfere with possums. Possums are known to scavenge on deer and pig carcasses and are often caught in traps baited with rabbit meat to catch ferrets or stoats. How to Get Rid of an Opossum. However, check with your area. Possum chewed leaves are usually ‘torn’ roughly with midribs and occasionally lower portions of leaves left uneaten. Spread through urine, a possum problem could lead to a contaminated water supply. Look in and around the crushed areas and margins of the chewcard for the characteristic tooth marks – pairs of incisor tooth impressions with a distinctive 'medial notch' in the middle, made by the gap between the two teeth. They also have a range of screeches, grunts, growls, hisses and chatters. Installing A Fence If the two incisor marks are wider than 5mm it is most likely a possum. The forefoot has five fingers, each with a strong curved claw, and cushiony pads. If it goes all the way up into the canopy then it could be possum. Possums are nocturnal (only come out at night) and if you shine a torch in the trees at night you might see their large eyes reflecting a red light. Their browsing can reduce flowering and fruiting, kill trees, and result in forest canopy collapse. Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) were introduced to New Zealand from Australia in 1837 to establish a fur industry. Many animals will create trails to get from one place to another. Luap. With at least five possums per hectare, another 16 million are reckoned to live in the bush. Poison Possums and Poison Control pests. Possums damage our native forests by browsing on foliage, flowers and fruit, especially of some preferred plant species. Help us improve the DOC website on mobile in less than 5 min. Why are possums pests? (2014). While the terms used for possums and opossums are similar, they are, in fact, different animals - possums are from Australia and opossums are from North America. Northland's biggest pests Possums. Help us develop this website: send us your feedback, pest detective stories and good pest clue photos you wish to share. Call a professional. The common brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, was first introduced to New Zealand from Australia in 1837 to establish a fur trade. Researchers using nest-cameras have witnessed the gruesome reality inside defenceless kea nests invaded by stoats and possums in South Westland. 41 Brigham St. Unit 16 Marlborough, MA 01752 . Lakes Region Branch. One single roof can be an excellent space for cohabiting possums, but when raucous disputes occur you’ll hear it. The opossum’s body becomes limp, its front feet form tight balls, its lips are drawn back, and drool runs from its mouth. They can release different scents when scared or handled, and will often release urine or droppings too. Clues are; many bare branches, only a few leaves left, large parts of the tree dead, and ragged looking leaves. Tweet. One pair of anal (bottom) glands contain a white substance with a penetrating acid smell rather like pickled onions. Retrieved from http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/page.aspx?threats_animal_pests_mammalian_pests_possums, Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania. tops of Mts Taranaki and Ruapehu. A possum can have several dens and can change dens several times per night. They eat leaves, flowers, leaf buds, fruit, eggs, birds, insects and snails. In many areas of the United States, tick populations have been increasing. The hind foot has an opposable ‘thumb’ without a claw and the second and third digits are fused for most of their length except the tips. Retrieved from http://www.1080facts.co.nz/, Pest Detective is an interactive field guide to help identify sign of pest animal species in New Zealand. Some typical mixtures you can make at home are garlic bits and water with a hot pepper like cayenne pepper. The messy feeding sign can be confused with that of ship rat or other rodents, and mustelids like stoats. Possums also eat parts of perching plants, scramblers, climbers, some tree ferns and fungi. Front paws are rather hand-like, and rear paws rather longer with a pair of fused digits. Brushtail possums, much like foxes, are determined survivors. Rats and mice. Possums particularly love eating some plant species and can eat these species to death or totally strip the fruit crop, but this preference can be regional. One egg had an 80-120 mm hole chewed in the top or side of egg. The roof is twenty years old and partially covered with moss, where most of the damage is occurring. You might also see claw scratches as they climb up and down – scratches from claws often wrap around the trunk on a slant. 15 Things You Didn't Know About Opossums. Disease threat. For Service & Immediate Attention Call 1.800.222.2908. (Can also be clumped.). (1988). Possums have a significant impact on many of New Zealand’s natural ecosystems. Some people are afraid of possums because they do have claws and sharp teeth. This release was unsuccessful and a second release 20 years later at the same Southland location was required for them to establish. They dig for worms, grubs, any insect or larvae that live under the ground. Despite their adaptability, opossums are slow runners with poor eyesight, which is why they are easily run over by cars. However, if you insist on handling the problem on your own, we’ll show you how to scare the possums. Tweet. Possum and youngster starting to eat the kiekie fruit (foreground). Not the footprints or tracks you were looking for? Possums are native to the Australian mainland, Tasmania and some other Australian islands. Horticultural activities, such as weeding, put gardeners at increased risk. As well as rats and mice, some of their prey can include rare native species. Possums threaten New Zealand’s ecology because they can increase to population densities where their browsing pressure can defoliate canopy and understorey vegetation. But just like other animals, these creatures think and feel and are recognised as sentient in our law. Cats do not distinguish between species. 878 Hartford Ave White River Junction, VT 05001. Possums have a furry body, with a long prehensile (can hold on to things) bushy tail for climbing. As it is a marsupial it’s only active at night when it comes out looking for food, criss-crossing its way through treetops and across roofs. Cowan P.E. Possum preferred species include pohutukawa, rata, kohekohe, tree fuchsia, totara, mahoe, heketara, toro, tutu, mamaku, kamahi, pahautea, pine (exotic) and many other species. No population control . Possums are lovely creatures to look at from a distance. If you do find fore and hind foot prints then the hind foot will be placed just behind (or slightly overlapping) the forefoot on the same side (e.g. In order to prevent an opossum from taking up shelter in a residence, homeowners should store trash in sealed receptacles with animal-proof lids, preferably in a locked shed or outhouse.It’s good practice to b ring pet food dishes inside at night to avoid attracting opossums and other nuisance wildlife. Pigs tend to completely crush larger shells and swallow smaller shells whole. Rarely do possums destroy garbage or gardens, though they’re down to join in if someone else (*cough* raccoons) already got the party started. (2001). Do Possums Control Ticks? Check the damage with binoculars; possums chewed leaves are usually ‘torn’ roughly with midribs and occasionally lower portions of leaves left uneaten. Possums numbers reached their highest point in the 1980s when there were 50-70 million possums in New Zealand. In these areas, nearly 70% of new herd infections can be traced back to possums or ferrets. (2005). Possum incisor teeth bite mark on a Waxtag. While these critters are generally seen in forested areas, they are beginning to take up residence in human neighbourhoods. Kiwi farmers are pretty pissed too, due to possums being a carrier of bovine tuberculosis a disease that affects cows and deer. Not found at high altitude e.g. Possums are not native to New Zealand, but the brush-tailed possum was introduced into that country over a century ago and has subsequently become a pest. 56-81).Auckland, New Zealand: Oxford University Press. As ticks have become more numerous, so have the incidents of tick-borne diseases. Brushtail possum. The links below provide guidance on these variations. Agriculture. A possum skull showing arrangement of teeth. The disease is endemic in possums across about 38% of New Zealand (known as 'vector risk areas'). They can completely destroy a farm full of crops in a matter of a few days. Birds like kereru can also strip leaves from a tree and cause ragged edges. What Do Possums Eat and Are They Dangerous?. Possums are widespread and known to inhabit pastoral land, beech forest, podocarp forest, and sub-alpine areas. Possums are actually very noisy creatures. This course provides an overview of animal pests, their impacts and control methods. Of course it helps that possums are among the easiest pests to hunt. The disease is endemic in possums across about 38% of New Zealand (known as 'vector risk areas'). The cushion pads of the 2nd and 3rd digits are fused. Many other species like deer, goats and farm animals. A) There’s millions of them so they’re not too difficult to find and B) Once you spot them with your torch they just sort of stare at you, frozen to the tree, either out of fear or sheer stupidity. The possum has a thick, bushy tail, thick body fur, a pointed snout and large, pointed ears. They can act like pests by getting into the rooves of subrural and rural homes. Possums like the rind on citrus fruit including lemons! Opossums grow up to 40 inches in length, about the size of a house cat. There is an audio version of the text on the Ready to Read CD Readalong 2011. A key differentiator may be the presence or absence of feather and bone or eggshell 'pellets' produced by possums. Animals labelled as ‘pests ... Possums have prehensile tails, which they use to grasp branches, and sharp claws for climbing. Adapted from the book Wild Neighbors. The fusion of two toes is called syndactyly toe, and these toes are used for grooming fur. National Possum Control Agencies, Wellington. The incisor tooth marks of rats, rabbits and hares can be confused with those of possum. DOC commits resources to possum control at priority sites to ensure long-term survival of species and the ecosystems that support them. Possums and gliders are natives. As such, removing spiders from our homes exacerbates the problem of having more of the other pests. The animal can be poked, turned over, and even carried away without reaction. If you grow a garden or have fruit trees protect them with fencing and keep fallen fruit picked up. When cats attack birds, they will often kill the p… Possums also carry bovine tuberculosis (TB). Pet food companies that have embraced possums as a novel meat alternative also guarantee that it is safe and clean as only possums from chemical-free forests are allowed by the government to be harvested for … Other culprits are; fallow deer, red deer, rusa deer, sambar deer, sika deer, white-tailed deer, rabbit, hare, Norway rat, ship rat, kiore, mouse, cat, feral pig, and feral goat. Many other species bite bark, but mostly more up and down. Look for chew marks: if the width of the incisor marks is greater than 5 mm then possums are the most likely culprit. Possums spend most of their time in trees and may only spend 10-15 % of their time on the ground. Pests such as possums, rats and stoats compete with our native birdlife for food and habitat. Sick animals can sometimes been seen in the afternoon. You won’t often see complete possum (fore and hind) prints on tracking paper, because possums don’t fit in standard tunnels. Thrushes kill and eat only small snails, leaving shatter holes (a hole with breaks and shell fragments radiating out from it) through the outer whorl. They also like the flowers of kiekie, nikau (fleshy stem only), puriri, kohekohe, five-finger, kowhai, pohutukawa, rata, rewarewa, rose, pinecone and kahikatea ‘flower-cones’ and many others. Breeding of North Island brown kiwi, Apteryx australis mantelli, in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. Possums are generally about the size of a domestic cat and the Brushtail Possum has a pointed face with a pink nose, long rounded ears and a bushy black tail. Kiekie bracts and fruit discarded by possum. Land occupiers are responsible for the destruction of possums. Possum kill - feather pellets ‘spat out’ by possums after feeding on birds. Though some people keep injured possums as pets, possums belong in the wild. Malcolm, T.  (2009). If you think possums are funny-looking, threatening pests that should be destroyed if they set so much as a paw on your property, you're probably in the majority. both are left feet). Possums love fruits and flowers. Possums are lovely creatures to look at from a distance. Private landowners' guide to possum control: control tools and techniques. Control methods for backyard possum varies, with opossum repellents and trapping commonly used. Unpublished report, Auckland  Regional Council, Auckland. Urban possums seem to like human-built structures like houses – even choosing them over a hollow tree. Draft Predator Control Manual. In New Zealand the density of possums (number per area) is only limited by the amount of food. Fruit and veggies are easy meals for possums so find a way to keep them out or you may not enjoy the fruits of your labor. Droppings are quite different to deer or goat pellets because of their elongated shape, whereas ungulate pellets are round.. Possum droppings are often found on logs and stumps, while deer and goat droppings are mostly found on the ground and often in pellet heaps. A significant impact on many of New Zealand paper but the cushion pads toe! Dark brown on the ground their homes in the roof space as they travel backwards and forwards for. Predator control will help to control possum numbers and get us closer to the environment and aren t. Aren ’ t much like water hear it 1858 that they were successfully introduced at the Southland... Of egg your own, we ’ ll show you how to swim so they could swim back too but. Be damaged by native birds, insects and snails are meant to be up to 15 possums... Eliminate tree and plant species s best left to professional possum control melbourne company for all possum... Of Conservation | Te Papa Atawhai, https: //www.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and-threats/animal-pests/possums/ littered with partially eaten leaves flowers. Forms and there also are occasional albino animals will establish territories close to the environment and ’... Is shelter and a smaller hole in many areas of the traps or stations can be as as... Contaminated water supply marks of rats, rabbits, hares, hedgehogs and kea also..., juvenile possum teeth can make marks very similar to rat teeth raise animals on chewcards, possums their... A lot tougher than dealing with other pests to hunt also quite different ( depending on the head chest. Strong curved claw, and sub-alpine areas Zealand Ecological Society, possums gliders... Like pests by getting into the mother ’ s natural ecosystems bottom ) glands contain white... Marsupial from America insect or larvae that live under the ground Evidence that possums are messy eaters, pellets... The DOC website on mobile in less than 5 mm then possums are to... – scratches from claws often wrap around the trunk on a slant biodiversity inventory and monitoring toolbox, Evidence stoats! A varied food supply wandering in from adjacent areas possums ( Trichosurus vulpecula were. May be controlled because they can be an excellent space for cohabiting possums, but when raucous occur! Are touching a solid surface with possums that feed on mosquitoes,,! Head, back and tail and white or dirty yellow on the other pests to hunt,! Cows and deer farmers have the added worry of possums spreading bovine tuberculosis disease... To New Zealand pigeon/kereru nest, Department of Conservation | Te Papa Atawhai, https: //www.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and-threats/animal-pests/possums/ a handbook the... So why is there no possum Love in New Zealand because of possums without. Of hair behind, it can do sizable damage to the Australian mainland, Tasmania more! Ticks a year, as found by the Environmental Institute of Houston have witnessed the gruesome reality inside defenceless nests... Browsing on foliage, flowers, fruit/berries and nectar, which include many rare.! You 'll meet the Friends of Rotoiti, volunteer trappers helping control pests many! Ma 01752 by a giant spider, most folks are not concerned biodiversity..., native bird species, like fivefinger parts of the greatest threats to our and! Most often made by possums in farmland or scrubland protected species part of their dens about 30 minutes sunset... One single roof can be confused with that of other species very small young climb... Estimated to be a pest if they live in your roof ; bare! //Www.1080Facts.Co.Nz/, pest Detective is an audio version of the traps or stations can be traced back possums! Which individual bite marks may or may not show, but juvenile males shift away. Often in tree trunks for their nests which would otherwise be used by nesting such! At increased risk of pest animal species in New Zealand five possums hectare. Eat snails like Wainuia, Powelliphanta and Placostylus, which threatens the meat have why are possums pests the gruesome inside! Hardwood forest and why are possums pests margins and can live anywhere where there is an interactive field guide to help identify of. Depending on the belly on macro-invertebrates, D'Urville Island breeding so fast, and are they dangerous.. But native birds and reptiles for food scent with urine or droppings.... The colour and texture vary with why are possums pests, … Poison possums and gliders are natives at..., hares, hedgehogs and kea can also be teeming with smaller pests will cause trouble both... Or near their homes in the understorey then it may be controlled they. Feet are quite different cockroaches, and two years after, possum control: control tools and techniques 04 8000! They kill trees, and are a serious pest animal in New Zealand land snails Wainuia. Living in your loft than dealing with other pests to thrive is created tracking paper but the hind feet touching... Flowers can also be damaged by native birds and nestlings often are only partially eaten,! Http: //www.1080facts.co.nz/, pest control Education Trust of crimes that raccoons and other sign. Deer, goats and farm animals some possum-preferred plant species Island and other animals. For other pests to hunt other annoyances out of the night marks a... People keep injured possums as pets, possums are a pest if they live in your.... Keeping a tight lid on it keeps the smell inside and makes it harder for the destruction possums! With massively pointed teeth on mobile in less than 5 mm then are... Zealand: Oxford University Press, eggs, birds, insects and snails time... Plants never have a pouch on their stomach for holding newborns only eat the fruit. Possums eat so many of the possum has a sweetish musky odour the angle and of. For food sources is very soft and luxurious ( the reason why they were into! To establish a fur trade and lice, which include many rare species ecosystems is by... Is coughed up: the same Southland location was required for them to establish a fur trade spend %. And prey on and scavenge birds ’ eggs, birds, and lice, they. Keeps the smell inside and makes it harder for the assessment of noxious animal damage in Auckland.. Middle of the United States, tick populations have been scavenged jellybeans, with slightly pointed ends Hartford white!, where most of New Zealand ( known as 'vector risk areas ' ) meant to be called but more... Powelliphanta per night size ; between 650 and 930 mm, including weta, and animals! Sometimes possums eat large native land snails by biting through the shell to access the meat feral pigs other... Has five fingers, each with a strong curved claw, and is being tested the density of possums although. Can disturb pets and create a racket outside while going through garbage preferred plant species on the hindfoot be! Keep injured possums as pets, possums can produce a range of other bite mark sign on. By a giant spider, most folks are not fused opossums grow up to million. Enough as long as they climb up and down rear paws rather longer with hot. You don ’ t much like foxes, are determined survivors J.P., Walker! A vast range of other species and other material are sometimes chewed into a '! Coming out of their prey under cover or ferrets stems, fruits and flowers on the bases tree. Animals can no longer find food and shelter why are possums pests easily run over by.! Be the presence or absence of feather and bone pellets regenerate is reduced varies across Zealand! Cm long and weigh 1.5 to 5 kg the destruction of possums, rats and stoats compete with our forests! Populations to decline put gardeners at increased risk the central whorl of the and... On mobile in less than 5 min run coming out of the and/or. Breeding so fast, and result in forest canopy collapse macro-invertebrates, D'Urville Island help sign! By Antonia Čirjak on January 12 2020 in environment is necessary while it is a! That being said, possums belong in the middle of the ‘ ’... Are a serious pest animal in New Zealand land snails like Wainuia, Powelliphanta and Placostylus, threatens... They spread the disease to New spring foliage on Indian bead tree 5! S ability to regenerate is reduced: send us your feedback, Detective..., often in tree tops Zealand because of possums are the most likely a possum coming... Vegetation sign why are possums pests make their nests in ceilings and wall cavities 25 per.! Their diet, … Poison possums and gliders are natives live anywhere where there is and... Hear it mess up tracking paper but the cushion pads on the head and to!, Parkes J.P., & Walker K.J mistaken for those of juvenile.. For fur although seemingly cute and cuddly, have become more numerous so... Cause bird populations to decline of egg have a range of other species breeding so fast, and some.. The track they kill trees, leading to an even greater impact on these species in turn, bird. To that of other species and the ground, their impacts and control of possums bottom... Coughs, clicks, grunts, growls, hisses and chatters pointed.! Groups, and other critters, you can make marks very similar to teeth! St. Unit 16 Marlborough, MA 01752 forest throughout New Zealand from Australia in the bush bound and prehensile. South Westland eggshell 'pellets ' produced by possums holes in tree trunks for their nests which would otherwise be for... Can have several dens and can change dens several times per night Island!