Do you hear bumps in the night? 50



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Do you ever hear bumps in the middle of the night and wonder what is on your roof or in your ceiling? As a child in the 50s and 60s, I lived on a property in Brisbane which had a large forest in the back yard and there were trees all around the house. It was quite often we had noises on the roof or bumps in the ceiling. I can remember Dad getting a man up to fix the hot water system which at the time was in the ceiling, and he came down really quickly because of the very large carpet snake that lived inside.

It was quite common to have Brushtail possums coming and going across the roof at night, and often they would lift up the tiles and climb right inside. They are the only marsupials that provide an all year round, totally free of charge building inspection service. The house had been built by my grandfather back in 1920 and was a timber home that had been kept in very good condition, however if there is ever going to be a hole in your roof, the possums will find it. 

The numbers of possums varied, but when they got comfortable and started nesting and having families, there was a down side to the problem. Yes, the yellowish brown stains that appeared on the ceiling of the house would be these delightful animals adding their mark, and these dribble marks down the VJ walls looked totally disgusting. Originally my father had asked the Council for a permit just after World War II, and they issued him with a lifetime permit to shoot the possums (I actually found the permit just after he passed away). Just shows you how much times have changed.

Dad never did shoot the possums even though they became rather annoying at times. My mother would not have allowed him, even if he wanted to. He would go up on the roof and repair the holes where the possums got through into the roof. As he got older, getting up on the roof was not an option, so he built a very fancy possum trap that looked a bit like a square box of very strong wire, with a door made out of metal. The door would be held up by a nail that was tied to a piece of string that led to a piece of banana or apple that he would string at the opposite end of the cage.

Dad actually spent time teaching us how to set the trap when we were kids. He would slide the cage on to the roof and set it open ready to catch a possum and was very particular where he put it, so it could not fall off the roof. When the possum walked into the trap and grabbed the banana, the nail would slide out from under the door and the door would close. The possum would generally stay there till morning and then Dad would take the possum in the trap across the river (driving about 30km to get to the other side). He would release the possum near some bushes where he could not be seen, and return home. He caught 24 possums one season and drove over to the other side of the river.  

One day he was boasting to his friend Jack about how many possums he had caught that season and Jack was telling him about his own catch. Seemed Dad had caught nearly as many as his friend.  Then he asked him where he took the possums when he caught them, Jack said he just caught them in a trap and took them across the river to the other side and dumped them there. Jack lived directly on the other side of the river from Dad, you could actually see his house. Bit like an exchange program was going on without each knowing of the other’s activities. I believe this exchange went on until both men were far too old to bother with the problem. Dad passed at 91 years and his permit lives on as a little bit of history for the wall.

Share your thoughts below.

Gill Johnston

  1. Yes every night and I think they deliberately wait until we have gone to bed to have a disco party on our roof and power lines.

  2. I had a pet (wild) possum as a youngster that lived in the shed. I would feed it and keep clean water for it. I could hold and pat it. One day it left for the gum trees. Dad saw its nose poking out of a hole in the shed ceiling some weeks later and began feeding it again so I could have my “pet” back. This went on for nearly a month until it bit his fingers. He wasn’t amused and bashed the ceiling to scare it away. He was even less amused when he discovered he had been feeding a large rat for all those weeks

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  3. Talking of wile animals, at the moment we have the tiniest baby rabbit who visits us every morning under my kitchen window, he has to stand on tiptoes to reach the Daisy’s, pretty sweet.

  4. Possums might be cute and protected but they’ve destroyed our trees and roses and turned our backyard bbq area into a massive possum toilet. Hate them.

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    • We have rises too, Georgina Johnson. Feed the possums bread and fruit and they will leave your green alone. If you aren’t willing to do that put some Vicks vapour rub next to your roses and they won’t et them.

    • Love the possums, feed about a dozen each night .one loaf of bread and 2 pieces of fruit and fresh water each night. Also have one who has been living in the shed for five years. She has just had her third baby while staying with us. She lets me hand feed her and has 2 slices of bread and 2 pieces of fruit. They are beautiful.

    • I agree with Lynda Lea , Georgina , even though I had a possum box , I would still leave a piece of toast and jam on a nail half way way up the tree and they would eat that rather than other things in the garden ,it really did work .

  5. Ring the parks and wildlife to get the possums off your property.
    They will tell you they can not move the possums no further then five hundred metres away.
    What a joke.

  6. Constantly. They do slippery dips from our garage to house and reverse. From tree to tree. One lives with her gorgeous baby in my chook house. We feed her, she allows us to cuddle and hand feed her and baby has just started trusting us too. I know I am encouraging her but hoped if I keep her fed she may not destroy my veggie and rose gardens.

  7. I had a big problem for many years ….possums getting into the roof space , weeing down the walls etc constantly blocking every entrance points but still they got in. Researched their living habits , and discovered by having a possum box installed high in one of the trees close to the house the possum family moved in and never came back into the roof space again. I ended up loving having the little family outside . They protect their own territory , so no others came within what they made their own . They are the cutest little animals.

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    • Thanks for that info Janet. We currently have one in our roof..drives the dog nuts when he leaves at dusk and thunders back in at at dawn lol. Will look into that possum box!

    • We had one in our roof for ages so my husband built a possum box and put it one of the tress. He blocked up the entrance after the possum left the roof space one evening and it’s been using the box every since.

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