Story by Vivienne
Early this year my family of possums abandoned their tree homes (which we’d planted for them) and took to living in the ceiling of my home. For some months I puzzled as to how they were getting in. They took to fighting or mating just above my bedroom and another was doing the same at the opposite end of the house. I had thumps and bumps and hissing and growling going on when they were heading out for the night and coming back in for sleep. Then about two months ago I finally woke up to how they were getting in at one end. Above the roller door.
I enlisted help of son in law and together we dismantled a wooden bed using the wooden slats as timber to cover up the hole. Yay, peace at one end for one night and then they were back. The buggers had chewed off chunks of timber and squeezed themselves back in. So, piss on my car and poo on the floor continued at a pace.
I then enlisted help of neighbour John. He’s very handy and has tools. (Also, in and out of lockdown meant son in law couldn’t cross the border.) John inspected and agreed with my diagnosis. One continuous piece of timber instead of six slats (three for each roller door – it’s a big garage, six squares). This would give them less opportunity to find a grip. The timber was beautifully stained to match the surrounding timber of the house. Yay, peace again – but only for one night. The buggers still managed to chew a gap out of the new timber. Unbelievable.
John also had a better look at the east end of the house and found one corner where there was a gap that they could squeeze through.
Now, the big problem with all this is blocking up the entry points while the possums are outside. The garage door was okay as I could leave it open a bit and then close it when I knew possums were out. Not so the east end of the house. John decided a heap of non-grip metal sheeting would stop them getting back in. He did a beautiful job. But that night there was so much kerfuffle going on in the roof I wondered if they couldn’t get out. John came up with a long piece of 2 x 4 and put it there as a ladder. Of course once I was sure they were out I had to remove the ‘ladder’.
Meanwhile we’re thinking about the garage end. Metal, metal all the way. John had scrap bits of long metal and we completely closed off one door and left a gap in the other. The darn lock stuck out a bit and so it had to have a gap left. This should do the trick, we thought. Next day I do the morning inspection. The whole roller door is covered in piss and the possums have squeezed in. After a lot of cleaning I called John to come and see what happened. Decided to move the metal in a little bit. A little bit in this case was only a centimetre. More unscrewing and screwing. Next day it is a big yay.
This still left the matter of blocking up the east end hole. So dear John agreed to come up at 7.30 pm in the damp and cold and do the job. Down came the metal sheeting and in went a piece of wood which he’d mentally calculated the perfect width and length. Nailed in.
Next day it is a big yay.
But in their grumpiness the possums had a go at the other side of the east end and knocked out two bricks (put there to block entry to birds). John fixed that with another piece of timber.
So, now one week later I have no possums in the garage or squeezed into the ceiling. Bliss. No more fighting or fucking, hissing or running around at 3.30 to 4.30 am.
John lives in the farm about 500 metres down our little road. We’ve known each other for about 35 years. He’s lent us his ram to service our ewes and made new fittings for the gully trap, shared Christmas gatherings with us and another neighbour (since moved north). He’s a fitter and turner as well as a farmer. I’m 71 and he’s 72 (happily married to second wife). I was his assistant. Beating the possums at their own game was a bit of a marathon.
The possums occasionally express their displeasure by doing a few laps on the roof.
I managed to get this photograph when I saw him on the verandah – I shot up and put the outdoor light on and caught him frozen on the rafter pretending he wasn’t there.
When you see the size of one of my possums it is hard to image that they can get in a gap which is about 4 x 8 centimetres. Piece of cake apparently. Roller access was also improved by their ability to push the door in (it’s actually flexible). One also has to be a contortionist and an acrobat.
Vivienne’s story August 2021
* Editors Translation – Bastards who are not protected in New Zealand and who make good insulation when their fur is spun into merino wool and made into jumpers.