Help, I Have Possums In My Roof and They’re Driving Me Mad!
If you live in Melbourne, Australia then chances are you can relate to this! And, if you happen to own a dog as well, then I would hazard a guess that your poor dog is being driven mad too and barks like crazy around 5-6pm every night when the possums wakes up and heads out for breakfast, and then again at dawn when they come back home to sleep. Possums are nocturnal animals so they usually sleep during the day and are active from dusk till dawn.
There are 2 breeds of possums that are commonly seen around urban Melbourne, especially the more leafy suburbs, they are the Common Brushtail Possum and the Common Ringtail Possum, both easily distinguishable by their tails (funnily enough). While you will often see Ringtail Possums running along the overhead wires on the street, they don’t usually venture close to houses so we’re not too worried about them (unless you have fruit trees). We’re most concerned with Brushtail Possums because they love to live indoors and if they have found a way into your roof, they will be with you for years!
Aside from the annoyance of possums making scuffling noises in your roof, loud crashing noises as they jump and run over your metal roof, creepy coughing and screeching noises that the possums make when they communicate or are fighting, and of course your poor dog barking at the noises he can’t see, there are some far more significant issues with possums calling your house, their home.
Possums Chew Cables
Possums love to chew electrical cables! As electricians, we see evidence of this all the time!
Most modern houses have RCD’s installed (safety switches) so if a possum bites into a cable, the RCD will trip and prevent the possum from being electrocuted, but then the possum is free to keep on chewing while the power is off. Sometimes possums will even strip a cable all the way down to bare copper creating a significant electrical shock or fire hazard. If the possum has chewed the cable but hasn’t crossed the wires, then it’s possible you will be able to turn the RCD back on and you will be none the wiser that there are some dangerous exposed cables in your roof.
If you notice your power cutting out sometimes, it’s possible that a possum (or rat) has been munching on your cables so we recommend you get it checked by one of our Kenner Electrics licenced electricians.
Possums Defecate In Your Roof and Damage Insulation and Ducting
If you have a possum living in your roof, then you have a possum peeing and pooping in your roof. You may even notice the smell after awhile and you may get stains appearing on your ceiling as the urine soaks through. Obviously this is all very unpleasant!
Possums also damage your insulation by squishing it down and scratching it out of the way. Both of which reduces the effectiveness of the insulation. If you also have halogen downlights, the possums may even move the insulation so it covers your downlights which poses a major risk of fire.
Possums love chewing cables but they also love to chew on and scratch at your heating and cooling ducting which could cause a hole to form and wastes your lovely hot/cold air.
And lastly, as possums run around in your roof, they can step on your light fittings, vents, exhaust fans and man holes and dislodge them. We’ve even known possums to drop them out of the ceiling as they run across!
How Do Possums Get On Your Roof?
Possums have incredible balance and are very acrobatic and so there are 3 main ways that possums get on your roof:
· Running along your overhead power or telecommunications cables
· Climbing a tree or bush that either overhangs or grows close to your roof
· Jumping from a nearby building or structure
How Do You Prevent Possums From Getting On Your Roof?
Possums love to use power poles and the overhead cables on the street as their own personal highway, and the cables that run to your house are a convenient off ramp. They can easily walk along any cable that is about as thick as your pinky finger, even if the cable is loose and sagging, they have no trouble at all.
The best way to help prevent a possum from accessing your roof via your overhead cables is to get a possum guard installed on the cables, making sure they are at least 1m away from your gutter. There are a few DIY possum guards that are quite commonly installed which include PVC pipe or empty soft drink bottles. These DIY options can be effective but they are quite unsightly. Here at Kenner Electrics, we install a more discrete possum guard kit on overhead cables that looks similar to the below image.
You can find out more by following this link. It's really important to understand that possums are incredibly skilled at climbing and there is no way of guaranteeing the effectiveness of an overhead cable possum guard. We have found that the possum guard kits that we install are effective against most possums (around 80%), but there are still some possums that have been able to get across them. In these cases, we recommend engaging the services of a licenced possum catcher who may be able to assist with catching and relocating the possum and also finding and sealing any possum entry points in your home.
If you have trees or bushes overhanging or near your roof, we advise you to keep them trimmed so they don’t come within 1-1.5m of your gutter.
If you have a nearby building or structure then we would advise you to take measures to stop the possum from climbing them. Consider installing a 30cm strip of sheet metal or clear semi-rigid plastic around any posts that the possum can climb. Trimming trees and bushes around it and perhaps installing some bird spikes or a barrier on top of the structure near where the possum would jump onto your roof.
If your neighbour’s house is right up against yours, then you might have to tackle this problem together. Have a chat with them and see if they’re happy to get an overhead cable possum guard installed and perhaps work together to trim the trees and bushes around your buildings. Remember that it’s in both of your best interests to keep the possums off your roofs.
How do possums get inside your roof?
Possums are very nimble and incredibly persistent animals. If there’s a hole in your roof around the size of a tennis ball, then they will be able to get inside. They’re even known to lift up the corners of roof tiles or loose metal roofing sheets so it can be tricky to find their entry points.
Possums are so persistent that even if you find the holes yourself and stuff chicken wire in them, they will push and pull until they get through so you will need to get your metal roof or tiles properly repaired or at least fix some solid timber or metal in the holes to adequately secure them.
How Do You Remove a Possum From Inside Your Roof?
If you know you have a possum already living in your roof, it’s important that you get a licenced possum catcher to help you remove it humanely. Possums are native animals to Australia and they are protected which means you are not permitted to bait them and only licenced possum catchers are permitted to trap them. There are also specific rules governing where they are permitted to be released.
A good licenced possum catcher will be able to assist you with removing the possums, finding and repairing possum entry points into your roof space and even installing possum boxes on your trees to provide them with a comfortable and safe alternative to your roof.
We hope this information has been helpful. If you live in and around Melbourne, and you would like us to install an overhead cable possum guard for you, you can check out our pricing here, or get in contact with us today and we’ll be happy to arrange this for you.