CHOOSING THE BEST METHODS FOR CONTROLLING POSSUMS AND OTHER PESTS
Choosing the best methods to control possums, rats, ferrets, stoats and feral cats has been made easier with the production of a publicly available internet–based Decision Support System or ´DSSD
Researchers at Landcare Research developed the application primarily for local authority pest managers, but it is also applicable to anyone needing to control mammal pests.
“Pest control has become quite complex over the last 10 years with new legislation and regulations, new pest control products, increasing public interest in conservation and pest problems, and increasing privatisation of the pest control industry,” researcher Dr Dave Morgan says.
“Local authorities are also under increasing accountability to rate-payers and all of this led to the idea of developing a system that would help people select the most appropriate control methods by a transparent, objective process.”
The DSS was designed by identifying the ‘generic’ questions that arise when pest managers are thinking about what control methods to use. Because the questions require ‘yes/no’ responses, the system is easy to use and unambiguous. The questions are focussed around the key issues of: legislation, operational aims, land tenure, farming practice, public and environmental safety, community views and involvement, and landowner views.
By considering these factors in a logical and systematic way, a number of options are presented. These are further narrowed down by establishing what control methods have been used previously because frequently repeated use of most methods results in declining effectiveness. Finally, recommended options are made on the basis of the likely cost of the remaining suggested methods.
Tips to Control the Possum Population Around Your Home
For every gardener or personal garden-loving home-owner in Melbourne, possums are those animals that represent nightmares. Even if you aren’t someone especially inclining towards grooming a garden you’re bound to be wary of having a possum infestation. They are creatures of the night that can be difficult to outsmart and can easily cause damage to your property.
And by property, I mean within your home, outside of it and of course your rations as well. Their control and removal is not easy thanks to their nocturnal habits and rapid movements, oh and not forgetting that they can quickly scurry off to a place you probably can’t even physically get into
This is exactly why the pest control industry offers treatment to prevent their infestation from going rogue and causing you great damage and loss. The biggest hook to any possum community, no matter where you are located in Melbourne, is food.
Where are they coming from? And why are they in my home?
Oh well, to give you a history as to why possums have become a growing pest and resulted in infestations of full areas, let’s talk about their habitat. Possums are actually meant to live out there in the wild. Previously there were a considerable number of Eucalyptus trees, however, several of them have been replaced by deciduous tress. This replacement has resulted in depletion in the population of the only known predator of possums – owls.
Can I just trap or kill Possums as a measure of control or removal?
Absolutely not! Unless getting jailed is one of the things to do on your bucket-list. They are a protected species in Melbourne. That means no matter how much of a nuisance they are or how badly you hates these pests, you’ve got to be wiser in this situation.
How to monitor possums
How often to monitor
Use your goal and management objectives to inform monitoring frequency:
If you only want pest data at critical times, you could monitor during bird breeding seasons or before and after control operations.
For ongoing studies, monitor four times per year: February, May, August and November.
For a clearer picture of fluctuations across the year, monitor once per month or every two months.
Pick representative habitat
Choose places that represent the range of environment types in your protection area. For example, if 50% of your area is beech forest, put 50% of your monitoring lines in beech forest.
Don’t run lines along places that would introduce bias, such as trap/bait lines, roads, ridgelines and streams. The best way to avoid bias in your monitoring lines is to randomise the direction each one runs. Roll a six-sided die and look up the number below. Run the line in the most practicable of the two bearings given.
Plot on a map or with software
Plot your line locations before you head out, and consider practicality of access when picking a line’s starting point. Mark your locations on a map and store them in a portable GPS device if possible
Choose between wax tags and chew cards. Both rely on bite mark identification for successful monitoring of animals.
Choose traps and toxins
When to use toxins instead of traps
If there are higher pest densities at your site, trapping will be labour intensive and inefficient unless the traps are self-resetting. Toxins are often a better choice in such circumstances.
Your local pest populations can become trap shy or poison shy if you stick to the same control method for a long time. Changing the tool can help you reach more targets.
New trap guidance
Any traps listed below as ‘new’ have passed NAWAC testing guideline for humane trapping. However, there is limited data on their efficacy in the field. Contact manufacturers for information on performance.
DOC-200 trap (and DOC-250, DOC-150)
Kill targets: stoats and rats
Best for: stoat control
Pros: long service life; proven effective; humane
Cons: large and heavy
For stoats: meat (Connovation Erayze, rabbit, salted rabbit); eggs (less attractive but longer lasting)
For rats: peanut butter (Connovation Ferafeed, peanut butter mixed with rolled oats); other nut-based or chocolate lures
Kill targets: stoats and rats
Best for: controlling rats when trapping is the preferred control option
Pros: labour saving; good instructions and support; humane
Cons: higher ongoing costs (lure and canisters); long-life stoat lure is still in development
For rats: Goodnature Rat Lure
For stoats: Goodnature Stoat Lure; Connovation Erayze
Possum Pest Control
Possums are pests. They eat your pet’s food, they crawl into your shed or under your deck or in your attic, and they live there and poop there and make a stink there. They scavange your garbage, and they are common city animals. Heck, lots of people just don’t like the way they look. So if you want to get rid of them, I understand. I personally wouldn’t mind living with an opossum outside, but if they’re living in the attic or walls of your house or something, the problem must be addressed.
HOWEVER – You definitely don’t want to hire a regular pest control company for opossum removal. Pest control guys traditionally take care of insects. They spray poison to get rid of them. It doesn’t work that way for opossums
Possum Spray – No such thing, unfortunately. If there were, then your regular pest control company or exterminator could take care of the problem. But we’re not here to exterminate opossums, we just want to solve the problem, which in most cases, involves trapping the animal in a cage trap, and relocating it far away from your property.
Here are some photos of proper opossum trapping. Notice that we’re not doing possum extermination. These animals are live trapped and moved elsewhere. If the animals are outside, it’s not such a difficult job. Opossums are the easiest to trap without worry of any animal that I deal with – that’s not to say that it’s a cinch. Most beginners that I see try it mess up in a variety of ways. And if you’ve got possums living inside the house, such as in the walls or basement or attic, then you definitely have a challenging case on your hands, one that I believe requires the hiring of a professional – just make sure it’s a wildlife control specialist, like the ones on my directory, and not your usual insect-spraying pest control company.
If you are a pest control operator who works in the south and traps armadillos, prepare to catch a whole lot of incidental opossums. Most trappers are used to opossums wandering into raccoon sets, as their diets are similar – they’ll eat almost anything. However, it also seems that opossums are either curious or, like the armadillo, easily directed into unbaited traps. When I set traps for armadillos, I set cage traps without bait. Armadillos dig for their food, and despite rumors, there is no known effective bait. Believe me, I’ve tried, and extensive research amongst good dillo trappers supports me. You can catch all the dillos you want by merely knowing where they will walk, and directing them into cages through use of barriers. However, get ready to catch quite a few opossums along the way. Opossums, like many animals including the armadillo, like to travel along edges. Thus, the same sets that cross an armadillos’ path will also cross an opossums’. However, the opossum lacks the caution most animals display, and they walk right into armadillo traps with annoying frequency. I also believe that some opossums might enter these empty cage traps because they detect residual smells of past baits or animals, but I’ve caught opossums in brand-new out of the box cage traps.