Nocturnal Possums in Australia: When and Why They Come Out

Nocturnal Possums in Australia: When and Why They Come Out

The common brushtail possum is a common sight across Australia, especially in urban areas where it has adapted well to living in homes. As such, it is now known as a common pest. But many people don’t know much about them, including their nocturnal behaviour.

In this article, we will be looking at the possum nocturnal habits and other elements that can help reduce the impact they have on the home.

Understanding Possum Behaviour

A common brushtail possum foraging for food at night.

Possums are a very common group of animals that can be found across Australia. They should not be confused with opossums, which are a similar species found in the USA.

There are over 23 different possum species in Australia. The smallest, the Western Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus concinnus) is just 15 grams and the size of a mouse. In contrast, the largest are typically the size of a cat.

The two that are often found near urban settings are the Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and the Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), of which the former is most common.

The species is primarily arboreal and nocturnal. During the night they come out to feed, defend their territory, and find a mate. During the day they are often found asleep in their den.

The species tend to live a very solitary life, with individuals marking territories with scent and vocalisations.

Typically the species make dens inside natural locations such as tree hollows and caves. They might also find den locations inside the roofs of buildings. While they sometimes share a den, especially in highly dense populated areas, they will normally sleep in individual dens.

There has been a slight difference noticed between those living in New Zealand, where they were introduced, and those living in Australia. In New Zealand, the species tend to have more den sites. Whether this is to reduce competition and fights is not known, but population densities in New Zealand are higher.

Brushtail possums will compete with each other, and with other species, for den space and other resources. This can lead to significant mortality in the species. Typically, when confronting another member of their species, there are few fights. Typically they will just stare at each other with erect ears. If it escalates, they will vocalise with several noises.

Nocturnal Activity Patterns

As mentioned, possums are nocturnal in nature. Therefore, they are more likely to be seen at night, as this is when they are most active. Here is a quick brief on their common behaviours during the period.

What time do possums come out at night in Australia?

Possums are very strict with their schedule. They will typically leave their den, whether a tree hollow or a roof space at the same time every day, usually just after dusk in their endless search for food.

This routine is very predictable and therefore can be used as a way for people to find out if a hole in their wall is being used by a possum for a den area. However, a possum doesn’t always use the same den. Sometimes they can have two or three dens in an area in which they rotate.

Where do possums go during the day in Australia?

The diurnal behaviour of the species is typically to sleep throughout the day. It allows them to avoid being discovered by numerous predators as well as humans. Though they might move about to go to the toilet or to eat some foraged fruits that they’ve brought back to the den.

It is very unlikely that you will see possums during the day. If they are disturbed, they can often try to flee, though this is usually to a backup den that they will have somewhere in their territory.

What time do possums go to sleep?

Possums stick to a strict routine, just like getting up to search for food, they will often return to the den at the same time every single day. They will usually look to access their dens just before dawn. Therefore, early risers can often see the possums enter holes which are being used as access points for possum dens.

During the day, possums will stay asleep, except for possible breaks to go to the toilet or have a snack with some food that they’ve brought back to the den. If they are awake for a small period during the day, their movements can sometimes be very loud.

Possum Nightlife

Possums are very active at night. During this time, they will search for food, which can include food and insects. They will also defend their territory from other possums who might try to access and take over.

Possums have a wide diet. They can typically eat up to four different types of plants in a single foraging trip, compared to just a single species that is common for other arboreal marsupials such as the greater glider or koala.

Their diet is very varied, while it mostly consists of Eucalyptus leaves, they will also eat flowers, shoots, fruits, and seeds. They’re also known to prey on insects, eggs, chicks, and the occasional small vertebrate.

One of the small problems with possums is that they are unable to cut the eucalyptus leaves as finely as other specialised feeders. Instead their teeth are more generalist, able to chew fruit or herbs more effectively.

They are also very solitary. The individual will search for and consume food on their own. They will also spend some time defending their territory from other possums in the area. Typically fights do not break out, but they will instead engage in a staring match that will sometimes escalate into a ‘shouting match’ where both individuals will try to scare the other with loud noises, which is how typically they are heard by humans.

Possums can live in numerous areas across Australia. They can be found in habitats that range from forests to semi-arid areas, and even in urban settings. While they prefer to live in forested areas, they can be found where there are no trees. However, they seem to dislike beech and pine as they are often found less commonly in these areas.

There are a lot of predators and threats to possums, which include dogs, foxes, tiger quolls, goannas, carpet pythons, cats, and birds of prey. In New Zealand, the species is only threatened by humans and cats, allowing their populations to surge.

As a result of habitat destruction and the growing threat caused by domestic cats and dogs, in Australia, the species has seen significant decline in recent years. Studies have estimated that the species has seen a recent decline of between 22% and 50%. Therefore, possums are a protected species.

Why Do Possums Make Noise At Night

A common brushtail possum

Possums are relatively noisy at times. They have several calls and noises that can be heard. They can have coughing growls which is a territorial sound used to warn off other possums that might be lurking in the area but are yet seen.

There is also a wheezy screeching call, often given in disputes when two possums are too close to each other. Another sound that can be heard is a shrieking scream, which is considered to be an agitation call, perhaps because a predator is nearby or because they’ve seen a human too close to them.

The sounds made by the Brushtail possum are often considered to be scary, and those who have not heard them before can sometimes be freaked out by the noise.

Factors Influencing Nocturnal Behaviour

Numerous factors have influenced the nocturnal behaviour of possums. Part of this is the desire to keep away from predators. Being nocturnal limits the number of predators that they might come across. Many of the predators they face are diurnal or crepuscular and therefore have limited engagement with the possum, though it is not impossible.

By limiting searches to night time, they can find food much more safely.

But also, nocturnal behaviour allows them to hide in their dens and keep their young safe. Another factor is that nocturnal behaviour allows them to stay out of the way of humans. Hiding during the day, when humans are more active, allows them to hide their presence.

Coexisting with Nocturnal Possums

Possums are a protected species. Therefore, you cannot harm or kill a possum that is using your home or garden as its territory. And moving a possum to a new territory usually results in the death of the possum.

Therefore, learning to coexist with nocturnal possums is critical for the species and humans.

There are ways to coexist, which include ensuring there is nowhere possums can live. So ensuring all access points into the roof space of a home are sealed. In addition, you can add devices such as an ultrasonic device to  from inside your home.

If you don’t want them in the garden, using natural deterrents is a highly successful way to keep them away from areas. Using something like Garden Sentinel can keep possums away from prized plants and vegetables.

Garden Sentinel can keep possums away

Product on the picture above: Envirobug Motion-Activated Pest Repeller Sprinkler

It is also important to remain active across your property. Leaving areas of your property, like outbuildings alone only encourages additional pests, as well as possums to inhabit them.

Conclusion

Possums are a common species that you’re going to find across Australia. The Common Brushtail possum is the most common species to be found in urban areas and is very adaptable. However, you’re unlikely to see the species as it prefers to come out at night.

As a protected species, it cannot be killed or harmed. However, there are ways to naturally deter the species from your property, if it has made a home on your property.

EnviroBug blog and resources

You may be interested in...

Products

sale
Snake Repeller
Envirobug Powerful Solar... from $98.00 $110.00
Enhanced Safety with EnviroBug's Advanced Snake Repellers Proven Effectiveness:  Envirobug's repellers are recognised as the most powerful and reliable solar snake repellers in the market. They provide superior protection for your family and pets by effectively keeping deadly ground snakes at a distance. Prevention Over Cure: With 80% of snake bites occurring during human intervention, Envirobug's approach focuses on prevention. By keeping snakes away, the risk of accidental encounters, bites, or confrontations is significantly reduced, ensuring safer outdoor spaces. Advanced Vibration Technology: The Envirobug solar snake repeller employs a powerful vibrating motor that emits variable vibration frequencies, covering a wider area more effectively. This technology not only ensures a broader protective barrier but also adapts to prevent snakes from getting accustomed to the vibrations. Established Track Record: Thousands of customers have trusted Envirobug's solar snake repellers over more than 16 years, using them to maintain snake-free properties in the harshest Australian conditions. This long-term, widespread customer satisfaction underscores our repellers' powerful track record of keeping venomous snakes at bay.
sale
Termite Ninja - DIY Complete Eradication Kit - Envirobug
Termite Ninja - Ultimate... from $297.00 $891.00
Termite Ninja - Safe, Effective, Affordable Protection. Designed to give you professional-grade termite prevention and treatment, Envirobug TermiteNinja bait traps can be installed by you in minutes – and will save you thousands of dollars in the process. Our customers love this product so much that we have never had a kit returned. Why TermiteNinja? Get professional grade protection – but save 80% to 90% vs. paying an exterminator (Save over $4,000 for a large house) Don’t get locked into an ‘inspection’ cost (save $900 every year!) – there is no cost to monitor for termites with our system Install yourself in minutes – no need to pay a professional No nasty chemicals – safe for you, safe for kids and pets - BUT JUST AS DEADLY TO TERMITES Simple to visually inspect (no touching) Don’t pay absurd markups for inferior/poisonous products It is the only system that allows you to directly install termite bait stations to monitor and treat termites anywhere – not just on the ground. Treat termites on walls Treat termites on the ground Treat termites in the ground Treat termites on stumps and patios They can even be painted to match your house! The termite bait is applied directly onto the spot where termites are active; no guessing, hoping or approximation Our system directly targets the queen (like a Ninja!) – her trusty soldiers carry the treatment back to the nest and once she dies, this will trigger a colony collapse. Why choose EnviroBug DIY Termite Ninja Multi-Purpose Termite Control Monitor & Bait stations compared with others?   The flexibility of Termite Ninja Monitor & Bait Traps compared with other traps:        What you get with your EnviroBug DIY termite Ninja monitor and bait system: Everything you need to monitor, attract and kill. You get your selected number of termite Ninja multi-purpose bait traps combo complete with all the components ready to assemble and position ready to go to work. You also receive a full complement of termite attractants and termite killer baits. You can buy additional baits and Killer Bait Powder Treatments separately on our website as needed in the future. Immediately following purchase you will receive, by email, our step by step guide to help you identify the best places to install, and how to treat termites, as well as videos to ensure your system is set up quickly and easily. There are pack sizes to suit all of your needs.Our system allows you to carry out your own regular termite inspections looking for telltale signs of termite activity inside the bait stations. It is still advisable to arrange an annual termite inspection with a timber pest controller as they will have electronic sensing devices to identify damp spots, etc. where termites may be likely to target. Product Features: Multi-purpose termite control boxes for multiple uses. Reusable tough ABS plastic control box traps will last you years and years. Generous supply of specially prepared termite timber bait. Clear indicator viewing window for ease of monitoring. Innovative box stacking system allows you to apply the killer bait without scaring termites out of an affected trap. Ant proof design prevents normal ants colonising the box. The killer bait uses the active ingredient IGR chemical chlorfluazuron at the rate of 1% per kg of pure cellulose - completely harmless to humans and animals.
-32% sale
Stealthy 360 Degree Ultrasonic Pest Repeller - Envirobug
Stealthy 360 Degree Ultr... $55.00 $79.99
Envirobug is proud to introduce our hassle-free, highly effective and contactless rodent repeller.  Superior to rodent traps and poisons, our device safely repels mice, rats and other pests in the home using state-of-the-art ultrasonic sound waves that only small pests can hear. After all, the best solution to pest problems is to prevent them in the first place! Mice, rats and other vermin are attracted to homes and sheds as they offer a dry and warm environment with easy access to food and water and plenty of nesting material. Prevent pests before they set up house and avoid the horror (and smell) of having them die in hard to get to places like in walls, behind furniture, fridges and stoves. How do they work? Simply plug in the EnviroBug 360-Degree Ultrasonic Pest Repeller and it begins to emit high electronic frequencies, which cannot be heard by the human ear, cats or dogs. It works by irritating rodents and other pests, making it uncomfortable for them to remain in the protected area. The 360-degree repeller can cover up to 370 square metres in an open unobstructed area. Don’t forget - they are completely safe and will not annoy your beloved pet cat or dog.  Where should I use them? The clearer the area is of solid objects, the further the ultrasonic frequencies will penetrate. While Envirobug 360-degree repellers are designed specifically to repel mice, rats and other rodents, customers have also had success keeping away a range of other small creatures including bugs, ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes and spiders. Please note: it's normal for pest activity to increase slightly after installation, as they are disturbed and looking for somewhere else to live. They will shortly go away! Pests gather where there is food, shelter and warmth. We recommend pest repellers in the following rooms: Kitchen Pantry Laundry Garage Dining Room Storage room Animal feed shed Roof cavities Farm sheds  Features: Silent operation Up to 370 square metre effective range Operation light indicator Test switch Low power cost power usage 12-month full replacement warranty Completely safe for cats & dogs Product Specifications Input Voltage: 240V Frequency Range: 25-65KHz Mode of repulsion: Ultrasonic waves Wave Pressure: 90dB Material: ABS Effective coverage: up to 370 square metres Height: 7.5cm Width: 12cm Package Contents: 1 x 360 Degree Ultrasonic Pest Repeller 
Mighty Plug-in Ultrasonic Pest Repeller - Envirobug
Mighty Plug-in Ultrasoni... from $29.00
Plug and Go! A low cost, hassle-free, highly effective and contactless means of repelling vermin from areas you want keep vermin free.  Safely repels mice, rats and other pests in the home using state-of-the-art ultrasonic sound waves that only small pests can hear. The best solution to pest problems is to prevent them in the first place! Mice, rats and other vermin are attracted to homes and sheds as they offer the ideal environment with dry, warm, easy access to food and water, plus plenty of nesting material. Prevent pests before they set up house and avoid the horror of having them die in hard to get to places like in walls, behind furniture, fridges and stoves. Avoid using poisons, rat and mouse traps or electronic traps to kill pests. No offensive or embarrassing smell of rotting rodent bodies that can last for weeks.  Simply plug in the EnviroBug Ultrasonic Pest Repeller into your wall socket and it begins to emit high electronic frequencies, inaudible to the human ear. It is highly irritating to vermin and stops them from settling in – but guaranteed not to bother your pets. Pests gather where there is food, shelter and warmth. We recommend installing pest repellers in the following rooms: Kitchen Pantry Laundry Garage Storage room Animal feed shed Roof cavities Farm sheds  How do they work? The Ultrasonic Pest Repeller is highly effective against rats, mice, and other pests by producing an ultrasonic signal above the audible range of the human ear. It irritates rodents and other pests, making it uncomfortable for them to remain in the protected area. The repellers operate off a standard 240V Australian power socket.  The repeller can cover up to 120 square metres in an open unobstructed area (we recommend installing more than one in larger rooms, or if the range of signal is impeded by large objects. Where should I use them?The clearer the area is of solid objects, the further the ultrasonic frequencies will penetrate. Vermin prefer anywhere food sources are available. Kitchens and pantries are critical places to install the repellers, followed by storage or box rooms, sheds, garages and other places that provide ideal nesting materials and places to make a home for themselves. Features: Completely safe for cats & dogs Silent operation Works by continuously transmitting a powerful range of ultrasonic sound waves that drives away pests Non-toxic and harmless to humans and pets, an alternative to toxic chemicals and dangerous traps Just plug in the socket, easy and convenient for use 80-120 square metre effective range Operation light indicator (doubles as a night light) Low power cost power usage, suitable for long-term operation. Does not interfere with the operation of radio, television or other electronic equipment. Safe, environmentally-friendly, effective protection to help eliminate common household pests 12-month full replacement warranty Product Specifications: Input Voltage: 100-240V Frequency Range: 25-45KHz Mode of repulsion: Ultrasonic waves Wave Pressure: 90dB Material: ABS Effective coverage: up to 120 square metres Height: 8.5cm  Width: 5.7cm Depth: 3.6cm While these repellers are designed specifically to repel mice, rats and other rodents, customers have also had success keeping away a range of other small creatures including bugs, ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes and spiders. Please note: it's normal for pest activity to increase slightly after installation, as they are disturbed and looking for somewhere else to live. They will shortly go away! They are safe for use around cats and dogs and generally the frequency will not affect them at all. Package Contents: 1 x Mighty Plug-in Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

Designed for Australian Conditions

Eco-friendly

No poisons

12 month warranty

30 Day

satisfaction guarantee

Afterpay American Express Apple Pay Bitcoin Google Pay Shop Pay Visa PayPal Mastercard