Possums Pose Problems to Trees: How Hungry Possums Can Strip Trees Bare
As folivores, or herbivores that consume leaves, possums are capable of decimating trees. This is one of the reasons that possums are designated as pests in New Zealand. The possum population there devours 21,000 tonnes of vegetation a day. However, despite that, possums in Australia are a protected species. Even if possums are making a nuisance of themselves in an area by ravaging rose bushes, fruit, and trees, it is illegal to trap and relocate or kill them without a permit.
This means that the trees in areas inhabited by possums are in constant danger of being stripped bare, especially when other, more favourable sources of food such as flowers and fruits are sparse. If you have one or more trees in your garden and have noticed possums in the area, you may need to take precautionary steps to ensure that your trees don't become possum fodder.
How Possums Can Kill a Tree
When other food sources are scarce, possums will climb into tree canopies and eat the leaves, flowers and seeds. In the wild, this reduces trees' ability to propagate and produce fruit. But worse than that, when possums strip a tree bare of its leaves, they take away its ability to take in energy via photosynthesis. Unless a tree can recover before its energy reserves run out, it will die.
So, if trapping and exterminating is out of the question, how do you protect your precious trees from these roving bands of marsupials? There are actually quite a few methods you can utilize to keep your trees safe.
Possums have a sweet tooth. They don't like pungent flavours. This means you can concoct any number of foul-tasting concoctions—from the ingredients you might use to make a curry, for example. Boil some chilli peppers, garlic, brown onions, washing liquid, and water, and then let them simmer for 30 minutes. Then strain the mixture and place the concoction into a spray bottle.
Spray this over your trees' leaves, and any possums in the area will think twice before they snack on those leaves. Fish sauce and tobacco sauce are also particularly toxic to possums.
Bags of Blood and Bone
Any animal will do. Chicken, pig, lamb, you name it, as long as there is blood and bone, it will do the trick. Fill some socks with ground blood and bone, and then place them near your tree. The smell of death will keep possums well away.
Beady-Eyed Stuffed Toys
Stuffed toys with those black, beady eyes that pick up the light also work well. Purchase half a dozen of these, and place them around your tree to scare possums away. Make sure you move the toys regularly; otherwise, the possums will soon wise up.
Lastly, if you think your tree is on the verge of death, get in touch with an arborist. They can assess the damage for you and improve your tree's chances of survival using their experience and know-how.