Possums are not an uncommon species to meet in Australia. They’re rather abundant in some areas but a lot of people don’t know much about them. One of the mysteries that people might have is their eating habits. What do possums eat? What is their favourite food? And where do they eat it? So in this article, we will be looking into this and showcasing the diet of these marsupials.
What Do Australian Possums Eat?
The common brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) is a species that has learned to live alongside humans. But as a result, those that are found mostly in wild locations, like forests and grasslands, can have a different diet from those that can be found in the urban jungle.
For instance, those not living near human habitation have a diet mostly made up of eucalyptus, but they may also feast on some shrubs like wattles, herbs, and some fruit.
When an Australian possum lives in an urban setting their diet can be rather different. Often they feed off the remains that are left over by humans. They can raid bins or eat from rubbish that has been left on the floor or picnic tables. They tend to eat a diet of fruit and bread.
What do Australian Possums Like to Eat: Meat
But there might be a few surprises when it comes to some smaller parts of their diet. Because there is very little protein in much of their common diet, possums are often found hunting for small lizards and even bird eggs.
In urban areas, possums might be attracted to leftover meat that can be found on bones from discarded BBQ parties or they might search bins for rubbish that has been thrown away. However, meat only forms a small part of their diet and it is more likely that they would raid human locations for fruit.
Foods Possums Like to Eat But are Dangerous
Like many animals, possums can sometimes be attracted to food that is not good for them. There are several food groups that possums will regularly try to eat that can be unhealthy and cause long-term health issues for the small creatures. These food groups include:
Sweets – Most animals are unable to eat food that is very high in sugar. Sweets contain lots of processed ingredients that make it hard for the possum to digest them. For example, possums cannot eat chocolate or jelly sweets which can have a devastating impact on the digestive system. However, one of the worst items of food that a possum can eat is cake, it can kill them within hours.
Take-out Food – Whether it is pizza or Asian cuisine, take-out food is normally very high in both sugar and salt. Therefore, what happens is that the possum can become dehydrated and at the same time struggle to metabolise the food. This can lead to long-term health problems as well as death.
Raw Meat – For a species known to chase down small lizards and even some insects to help get a protein fix, you would think that raw meat would not be a problem. However, the marsupial should not be fed any raw meat. While they can process some meat, it is not part of their main diet and rather a supplement. So raw meat can overload their system. Another problem is that raw meat can sometimes carry diseases that they can catch. One of the reasons why humans cook meat is to stop the spread of diseases.
The Apple Test
Sometimes people who have possums in their houses believe they have rats. And this is not surprising. It is because both species move around, hiding in the dark, and are nocturnal. However, other than checking for droppings, there is a simple way you can test for the possum vs rat.
The test uses the eating habits of the possum. For one, the possum will tend to eat a food whole, whereas rats and mice don’t like to do this but will only eat a small part of it, leaving the rest. The idea is that the rat believes this will hide that they are in the area.
So the idea is that you leave an apple in an area where you think a possum or rat might be visiting. Then you can visit the location again in the morning. If there are bite marks on the apple, then the most likely culprit is a rodent. If the apple has disappeared, then it is likely that a possum is in the area.
Another way to determine whether it is a possum or a rat in your home you can look for droppings. A possum will leave their droppings in one area, in a pile. Rats tend to spread their droppings around a location as they move about.
How to Get Rid of Possums on your Property
If it turns out that there is a possum in your home, there are several things to do. For instance, you could get an ultrasonic device to deter the possum from your location. These are easily available on our website, and can be the safest option as they will not harm your pets or children.
Another option is to set-up a motion-activated device in your backyard to prevent to even coming close to your home. The Envirobug Garden Sentinel Motion-activated animal sprinkler uses an infrared sensor to detect the body heat of animals and birds. Once triggered, it deploys a startling burst of water combined with unexpected noise and motion creating a safe, highly effective deterrent against all kinds of pests.
You have to also make sure that there are no potential sources of food for the possum. For instance, you should get a bin you can lock down and prevent an animal from accessing the food.
Finally, you might need to block holes up in a building. This prevents the possum from accessing the home.
Final Word: What do Possums Eat?
Possums are a very versatile species, eating various foods, but their main diet is plant-based. They eat a lot of leaves, flowers, and fruit. In urban areas, they tend to eat more fruit and can be seen eating bread. However, there are food items that they get a hold of when out and about, that can cause them to become ill.