Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)
New Zealands number one pest
- Possums seriously damage our native forest. They eat the berries and flowers that are food for native birds. Birds’ eggs and chicks are also predated.
- Possums damage crops, commercial forest and gardens.
- Possums spread the disease Bovine Tuberculosis to cattle and deer.
- Possums are a considerable nuisance around dwellings and gardens.
Control methods around dwellings
The Timms kill trap is recommended. It can be safely used around homes.
- Where to set the trap
Traps should be set on a level surface where possums forage.
Use a quarter of apple. Ensure the bait is fresh and firm. Sprinkle powdered five spice, cinnamon or cloves onto the apple to arouse the possum’s interest. Do not use baits that may attract cats, such as meat or fish.
- Setting the trap
Turn the trap upside down and push the apple onto the bait rod as far as the bend. Place the trap the right way up. Press down on the top of the trap while pulling the nylon cord with your other hand, until the striker bar locks into position.
- Removing a dead possum
Pull the nylon cord to release the pressure on the striker bar and pull the possum free. Dead possums can be dug unto the garden as compost. Otherwise place the dead possum in a plastic bag, secure at the top and place in your domestic rubbish bag.
- Unsetting a trap
Trigger the trap by smacking the sides of the trap heavily with your open palms.
- Trap safety
Keep your fingers clear of the keyhole at all times!
- A trap can be set on a wood block to avoid catching hedgehogs.
To obtain a trap
Traps can be purchased from some Regional Councils (definitely Wellington). They are also available from hardware and farm produce stores.
Bait Stations for bush and shelter belts.
Bait stations are an effective method of distributing poison baits to possums.
- Where to set a bait station
Bait stations should be placed no more than 150 metres apart. They should be placed on trees out of reach of children, stock and pets.
Brodifacoum or cholecalciferol pellet baits are recommended for use in bait stations. They ar easy to use and you won’t need a poison licence. Follow the directions for use supplied by the manufacturer. Bait can be purchased from some Regional Council (again, definitely Wellington Regional Council), or from farm produce stores.
- A reprieve for native birds
An additional benefit of using brodifacoum is that rats and predators are also killed. This will improve the odds for native birds attempting to breed in the area.
Danger to humans
All poisons suitable for bait stations are coloured green. They are dangerous if eaten. For First Aid and safe use of toxins, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging.
This information is reproduced with the kind permission of Wellington Regional Council who produce the pamphlet this information is taken from.