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Australians are a diverse group of mammals, ranging from tiny gliding possums to large agile climbing brushtails. The Brushtail Possum is the most familiar of all the possums. They are found in most areas where there are trees, especially open forests and woodlands.

The Brushtail has also adapted to living in urban areas, often making their homes in any dark area, which is often the space between a ceiling and roof of many buildings particularly in family homes. The Brushtail possum ranges in colour from dark brown to silver-grey on the back and cream to pale grey on its underside. It has long oval ears, a pink noise and a big bushy tail, brown-black in colour. The diet of Brushtail possums consist of mainly leaves, especially eucalypt leaves and also native fruits, buds and bark in the forests. They also eat a variety of other food in urban areas where they rummage in gardens and exposed rubbish bins of home owners.

The major breeding seasons of the possum seems to be in autumn and the early spring. Females will usually begin reproducing at the age of one year.

The young can spend up to 4-5 months in the mothers pouch, attached to none of the two teats, where it develops quite quickly. 1-2 months are then spent suckling and riding about on the backs of their mothers. Usually after the weaning period, it leaves the mother and makes its own way into the world. Even though possums are at the mercy of being killed by foxes, dogs, humans and bushfires, there are still large numbers and they are amongst the most familiar and popular Australian mammals.

Problems caused by Possums

Common Ringtail and Brushtail Possums are the focus of many complaints by some urban residents for a variety reasons.

• Noises in the roof
The common Brushtail Possum frequently spends the day in the roof cavity of houses, where its urine may damage plaster and it may chew wiring or cause anxiety because of the loud vocalisations and thumping in the ceiling when 2 possums are squabbling. These noises may continue at night, as possums may not emerge from the roof until well after dark.

• Noises on the roof
Possums frequently cross house roofs on their way to feeding areas. A Brushtail Possum that is running makes heavy thumping noises that may waken some people. If 2 Possums are fighting on the roof, the heavy thumping noises are accompanied by loud squealing calls that can be alarming.

• Garden plants being damaged
A large portion of the diet of both the Brushtail Possum and the Ringtail Possum comprises the leaves, buds, flowers and fruits of many garden plants. Certain plants may often be the focus of repeated feeding by possums for many days or even weeks. This may cause severe defoliation or even death of the plants, or may result in most or all of the flower buds being eaten. In some areas, certain plants cannot be grown unless they can be protected from Possums.

• Droppings on paved areas.
Where Possums spend time in trees or other plants overhanging paved areas such as driveways, paths and patios, their droppings accumulate on those areas or on parked cars and may be seen as offensive by some people.

• Possums causing dogs to bark.
Some dogs bark persistently at Possums, causing annoyance to their owners and to the neighbours.