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Deterring Possums: Practical Tips and Insights

Possums can be a nuisance for homeowners, particularly when they target your precious garden plants, fruits, and vegetables.

While numerous deterrents and strategies have been proposed to keep possums away, their effectiveness remains debated.

This article will discuss various methods to deter possums, with a particular focus on a study conducted by The State of Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and a Deakin University study.

Do Possum Repellents Work?

According to the study, “DELWP is not aware of any definitively successful, universal repellent that will consistently deter possums from eating plants.”

While some people believe certain products or mixtures work, others claim nothing stops their plants from being eaten.

This highlights the need for research and testing to identify effective methods of possum deterrence.

Deakin University Study on Possum Repellents

A Deakin University study aimed to test the repellency of 14 commonly used products for possums. Some of these products included garlic spray, Tabasco sauce, Blood and Bone, and Scat.

The products were tested on one population of possums at one site, so the results may not be representative of possum behaviour in other locations.

The study found that when possums were hungry, none of the repellents prevented them from eating all the apples provided.

However, some compounds, such as Keep Off and Scat, may show some degree of repellency.

The authors of the study stated, “The results do not necessarily indicate that similar responses will be displayed by possums elsewhere, or that other kinds of tests would yield similar results.”

Methods for Deterring Possums

ringtail possum | Pest control

Given the lack of definitive answers from the DELWP and Deakin University studies, you may want to consider multiple strategies for deterring possums.

The following methods are popularly used and may offer some protection for your garden.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers can be an effective way to keep possums away from your garden and fruit trees.

Some commonly used physical barriers include:

  1. Wire cages
  2. Chicken wire fencing
  3. Bird netting (which can be removed during the day)
  4. Electric fence
  5. Trap and release (in line with local laws)

Deterrents

Various deterrents have been suggested for repelling possums.

Although their effectiveness is not proven, they may be worth testing in your garden.

Blood and bone – The most common method appears to be sprinkling blood and bone fertiliser.

Dog hair – WA Department of Primary Industries suggests “the best deterrent for possums is an old stocking stuffed with dog hair.”

Garlic: soak 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic overnight in one litre of hot water. The next day, strain the mixture then spray directly onto your plants.

Chilli: Similar to the garlic method, finely chop up a chilli and soak it in hot water overnight before straining and transferring to a spray bottle. You can shortcut this method using Tabasco sauce.

Egg yolk: Some fruit and vegetable growers have reported success with an egg yolk-based spray, which reportedly contains a chemical that possums tend to steer clear of.

There are also commercial products like the Yates Possum Repellent Spray which reportedly protects your plants by deterring possums.

These deterrents should be applied in compliance with local laws and animal cruelty regulations, as stated in the DELWP study.

Also, remember that “compounds that dissolve in water are likely to be removed by rain and should be reapplied after rain.”

Conclusion

Deterring possums remains a challenging task, and research has not yet identified a universally effective repellent.

Nonetheless, a combination of physical barriers and deterrents might offer some protection for your garden.

Experimenting with various methods and observing their effects on possum behaviour can help you determine the most effective strategy for your specific situation.

Remember to always follow local laws and animal cruelty regulations when attempting to deter possums.

As more studies and research are conducted, we may gain a better understanding of what works best to deter possums.

But for now, trial and error, combined with the knowledge from the DELWP and Deakin University studies, will have to serve as our guide.

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Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY and is always looking for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking meals with produce harvested from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.

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