Did you know possums are Australian native animal and have been protected under the Wildlife Act since 1975?
These days we google everything. The word ‘google’ no longer only refers to the company it is also commonly used as a verb to denote searching for something online. It is interesting to be able to review what information other people have been searching about, and when. By using Google Trends we can analyze when the most people search for possum and pest control related keywords, which should give us an indication of when related problems are the most serious. For this analysis we have used data from the period of 2000 to 2014. The trend charts are built based on normalized data in the range of 0 to 100.
It is interesting to see that there is a significant difference between the worldwide trend chart and the Australian chart. The blue line shows the history of the keyword “possum”, whereas the red line shows data for “pest control”. The first figure shows the Google Trend chart globally. Here we can see that the blue line is lower than the red line throughout the observed period. This is a likely indicator that possum disturbances and research have been fairly low when compared to general pest control searches. We also see a consistent pattern of spikes in the months from May to June each year, except for 2011, that shows a spike slightly earlier in April.
Figure 2 – The Australian chart, shows a very different situation. Firstly we can see that the blue line is quite a random pattern, while the red line signal shows a more orderly line. While the spike highs are not as sharp as the red line ones in Figure 1, there are consistent peaks around January each year. There are also consistent lows around August of each year. These peaks and troughs coincide with the summer and winter in Australia.
From 2004 to 2009, the keyword “possum” was more frequently searched for than “pest control”. In the following years until this year, “pest control” has been increasingly searched and has overtaken “possum” on the average number of searches. This may be due to an increasing number of pest problems around Australia recently, or perhaps because more people are now searching for services on the internet and not just information, and people searching for “possum” prior may have been more interested in learning about possums, not just possum removal services.
While we could make assumptions about a decrease in possum disturbances over the last half-decade, a search for “possum removal” paints a different picture. Searches for that keyword have been continuously increasing since 2009, so we it is unlikely possums have stopped menacing the people of suburban Australia. Have you noticed an increasing possum problem around your home? If so, please let us know, but before you do anything drastic to quell their night-time scampering and fighting, here are some facts about those noisy critters:
1. Possums breed in the autumn, but…
According to a paper in Journal of Zoology by Gilmore D.P., Australia has two species of possums, the Brushtail (Trichosurus vulpecula) and the Ringtail (Pseudocheirus peregrinus). Both species have a very consistent breeding cycle. They breed mostly in the autumn, but some specific species have a minor breeding season in the spring. In the warmer temperature of northern Australia, they breed all year long. In a conducive environment, they can live up to 11 years. Going back to the above Google Trends chart for Australia, we can see that while more likely in the warmer months, there is potential for possum disturbance all year long.
2. They are peaceful marsupials, but …
Although possums have a peaceful nature and generally try to avoid confrontation, they will turn aggressive if provoked. This is especially true if they feel their babies are being threatened. Ringtail possums are social marsupials and tend to live in a family group. The female possums carry their babies in their pouches, just like kangaroos. Once the babies get too big, the females carry them around on their back until they are big and strong enough to live independently. In extreme cases, six adult possums can live together with their babies in a single attic. Because of this, sometimes it is easier to find their entry and exit points to block it off instead of fixing a trap for each of them. Try not to get into altercations with them as they can be aggressive if trapped or provoked. They have 52 sharp teeth, more than any other marsupials. Be extra careful if you encounter a any female possum and their babies on your property. If you aren’t sure what to do it might be best if you contact a possum removal expert.
3. Possums eat leaves, but …
Possums eat nearly all kind of leaves, but Eucalyptus is their favourite. Along with these, possums diets also consist of cultivated plant leaves, flowers (like roses and hibiscus), and orchard fruit. Their tough digestion system is supported by la arge colon and special gland that secret special kinds of enzymes and bacteria. This is the reason their faeces has a very sharp odour and makes them very easy to track. With diets supplemented by eating grass, fungi, and bird’s eggs, the Brushtail Possum may even occasionally eat small vertebrates such as baby birds, as mentioned on the website of Melbourne Victoria Government. To keep them away from your home keeping your garden and backyard tidy, prune any tree branches near or above the roof, mow your grass regularly, cut off dead trees or dead trunks around your property.
4. They are nocturnal, but…
Possums are nocturnal marsupials. They are very active at the first part of the night and then resuming feeding just before dawn. This is why we rarely encounter them during daylight hours. On colder, darker days in winter you may see them occasionally however. They may also be seen during the day when food is scarce or when they have been disturbed from their sleeping quarters. They usually make their inside a property at night by finding an easy opening through a crevice or crack. Gaps between decks and the ground are also comfort nesting areas for possums.
While Google Trends tracking can show us how problematic possums or any other pests for that matter have been during any particular time period, it is in our own best interests to take the steps that we can to alleviate our own issues. By taking care of your garden and maintaining your property you can ensure that you will get a decent nights sleep every night, even if your neighbours and possible even the majority of the rest of the Australian population, aren’t. Stay tuned for more possum removal tips on our blog later in the year.