As long as there have been gardens there have been pests, and it feels like the possum is the most evolved, making them a formidable foe. Their opposable thumbs render them capable thieves, and their nighttime appetites are voracious. They are also the only pest that, when young, are cute enough to consider keeping as a pet.

Possums are also easily adaptable to deterrents set in their path, particularly when fully grown and well versed in the art of patch destruction. They have a particular love of ripe fruit, but are cheeky opportunists and don’t mind sampling whatever is available. Like us, they have simple common sense. This means that the plastic fake owl hanging around the veggie patch may frighten them the first time. However, on the second, third and fourth encounter, the patch-wise possum won’t bat an eyelid at a fake owl’s frozen vigilance.

Take a look down the pest control aisle in the hardware store and you will find a suite of products ranging from chilli sprays to high-frequency audio devices – all claiming to be the definitive solution. Unfortunately, audio devices are much more likely to annoy your poodle than save your lettuce, and some possums seem to have a newfound fondness for sprays that traditionally repelled.

That’s right, even for the pesky possum, a chilli can be an aphrodisiac. So, when they eat your habaneros they’re not just depriving you of food – they’re getting off on it, too.

Optimal Conditions

A built-up garden in a built-up area with plenty of access points, such as trees and fence lines.


Significant damage to outer parts of leaves and fruits. Or when you go out at night and you catch a possum nonchalantly eating your citrus while looking right at you.


Netting is the best form of prevention and eradication. If you can find the access point, disrupting it may divert your possum friends elsewhere. Keep precious plants away from fence lines as the closest plants to the access points usually get picked on first. Don’t get a pet dog – in particular, a cocker spaniel – that will bark at the possums from dusk to dawn, resulting in your tired and rather frightening-looking German neighbour knocking on your door at 3.30 am.


While young seedlings and ripe fruit are frustrating to lose, we are usually happy to share the more mature foliage with our possum friends. You can also try your hand at a number of sprays – chilli, garlic and eucalyptus – as well as sensor lights, high frequency transmitters and fake owls, but like us possums will quickly recognise a plastic owl when they see one.


Possums are territorial, but if you ‘relocate’ them, another will happily take its place. Not only that, but moving the animals is illegal. Remember that they were here first so we have to learn to live with them. Soundly constructed netting is the only sure way of keeping them out.

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