Possum in the Chimney !


This is an Australian Brushtail Possum. Pretty cute little critter, isn’t he? Until he begins living in your roof, or rather, your chimney. I live in a Victorian era house with four fireplaces and four chimneys. I thought most of them were sealed off to prevent possums living in them until a few weeks ago when I began to find rather unusual objects left behind in the fireplace in the dining room.

I have found berries, figs, apple cores, snail shells, pizza crusts, orange peel, half-eaten slices of bread and grossest of all, a rotting chicken drumstick. Eeeeewwwwww! The possum is raiding garbage bins and sitting atop the chimney pot as he eats. Naturally, he has no way of catching the food he drops.

This means I will have to take action. Possums are protected in New South Wales so you are not allowed to trap them. You can get a professional to trap them for you but he is not allowed to relocate the possum more than 200m from your property. The only option is to wait until the possum comes out of the chimney pot and then seal it up so he can’t get back in.

This procedure is fraught with problems. Possums are nocturnal and sometimes don’t come out until well after midnight. It isn’t recommended to be climbing on your roof at that time with a hammer and steel mesh in your hands to block up the chimney.

There was nothing for it but to call the Possum Man. The Possum Man’s name is Baz. He looks a bit like the late Crocodile Hunter only with glasses and a beard. I sometimes wonder if the beard is a disguise, it is so thick and lustrous. I wonder if Baz moonlights as a Possum man because he is sick of his day job as manager of a recruitment firm and possums afford him the excitement he is missing. One day I am going to pull on his beard to see if my suspicions are correct.

Last night the possum didn’t come out until 12.30AM. Baz and I sat outside drinking strong cups of tea and eating chocolate biscuits, checking the chimney pot from time to time with those night vision binoculars they use in the SAS. It was Monty Python meets the Bourne Identity.

Right on the dot of 12.30AM the possum emerged, stretching like a cat, tail brushing the sky like a feather duster. It jumped – bounce bounce bounce and disappeared on to the road. “I saw a possum jump three storeys once,” said Baz. “Didn’t even flinch, just went about its business.” I began to wonder if possums had some kind of myth attached to them, like a cat with nine lives.

Swift as a rigger, Baz was up on the roof shining his SAS strength torch into the chimney pot. “Looks like we’ve got a problem,” he said. “You’d better come up and have a look.” I have to stress that I am not a terribly agile creature. I am the type of person who stumbles when walking in a straight line. Standing on rooftops is not really my thing,especially after midnight, but the tone in Baz’s voice revealed that he would brook no argument, so up I scrambled.

There I was, feeling slightly nauseated, yet strangely elated, standing on my freaking roof in the middle of the night. I had to steel myself to look in that chimney pot thinking that at worst it was full of a hideous collection of half-eaten food; at best, a bag of treasure. I was ill-prepared for what it actually did contain.

“They look like they’re about three weeks old,” said Baz. “They’ll die if we pull ’em out.” There they were, three little baby possumettes, all fluffy and cute, their huge, saucer eyes shining in the torchlight, huddled together like rolled up scarves in a drawer.

Baz indicated we climb down. “I’ll come back in a month and see if we can get ’em out,” he said. “In the meantime I suggest you seal up your fireplace from the bottom so they can’t drop in.”

I haven’t been able to take Baz’s advice. If one of the babies falls I don’t want it to get stuck in the bowels of the chimney, so I’ve placed newspapers in the fireplace. And cushions to break their fall.
Looks like I’ll be picking up discarded food for a little while longer !


13 thoughts on “Possum in the Chimney !

  1. Oh what a lovely story – submit this one to the Carnival of Australia – it’s a classic.

    We hear “possums” in our roofspace from time to time – but sadly they are only the common rat.


  2. Hahahahahaha! I would do EXACTLY the same thing – newspapers, cushions, maybe a little trampoline. My husband, big bad wolf that he is, would probably opt for smoking ’em out – law notwithsatnding.


  3. oh… i just know i would freeze to death instead of disturb them,,, i have been lucky so far and nothing has taken up residency in my chimney,, it is used so frequently that i doubt they have had time!!!!!! wonderful write selma….


  4. Very funny!

    I remember when I had bat’s living in my attic!! Then one day one of them got into the house and freaked everyone out!!



  5. Hi Selma,

    Your post reminded me of one of my favourite Sydney Morning Herald columns which ran in the 1970s and 80s. It was called “Wildlife in the Suburbs”. It was a weekly column that dealt with such creatures as cicadas, grasshoppers, frogs, wasps, bees, caterpillars, cockatoos, flying foxes (aka fruit-bats) and a whole host of other suburban ‘wild life’.

    I’ve never had a possum as a guest in my home. But I have been visited by a blue-tongue lizard, a tawny frogmouth, frogs, and some exotic looking bugs

    A couple of months back, round my suburb, there were hundreds and hundreds of cockatoos. Sometimes it would look it had been snowing because the trees and grass were covered with cockatoos.

    Lately, especially, at dawn and dusk the fruit bats have been making an appearance – the most I’ve seen flying about is five. But in the next couple of months, the skies will be filled with fruit–bats and walking to and from home will be like being on the set of a House of Hammer vampire movie.

    Thanks for a great read.



  6. Cellobella – thank you for your kind words. In my other house I had rats in the roof. My hubby also had a great big Sydney sewer rat in his shop in the CBD. My big, manly husband actually screamed. It causes him embarrassment to this day!

    Groovy – a little trampoline is a good idea, that way they can bounce straight back up again!

    Paisley – I just didn’t have the heart to disturb them. Their little faces were so adorable with the big, pleading eyes!

    Miss Britt – they’re cute, really, I promise. Now close your eyes and hold out your hand …..

    Josie – I have thought about leaving out food for them, I must confess. I want the babies to get all their vitamins!

    Jimmytomato – thanks so much for stopping by. We also get fruit bats from time to time but I’ve never had one in the house. That would freak me out. I am coming to visit your blog in a minute!

    David – you are so fortunate to have been visited by a tawny frogmouth. What beautiful birds. I have yet to see one. The image of it looking like it was snowing because of all the cockatoos is a gorgeous one. It is amazing when they come en masse like that, isn’t it? I know what you mean about the bats – sometimes I can almost hear pipe organ music as I walk home in the evenings!


  7. LOL!

    We have both the brushtail and ringtail possums in our garden. The other day a little ringtail decided to spend the day sleeping in full view in a small, rather open tree. When I went to have a closer look, I was lucky enough to see several tiny legs poking out her pouch and later on hubby and I watch as two joeys had a little scuffle inside there and one actually fell most of the way out of the pouch! He lashed tail and legs around Mum just in time, but of course I dived forward with my hands outstretched beneath them…

    We’ve also watched a ringtail possum climbing up our tree with a bundle of twigs and nesting material carefully curled up in its tail, all four feet free for climbing. That was utterly cute.

    We have a pair of tawny frogmouths in the vicinity – I haven’t seen them for a few months, but our neighbour spotted them recently. Kookaburras are nesting in a hollow tree, and the crimson rosellas and sulphur crested cockatoos come to our bird feeder and water bath. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by nature. 🙂


  8. daoine – your garden sounds like paradise. I love being surrounded by nature, it gives me a sense of peace and happiness that I don’t think I would normally have.


  9. Save the possums! I am LOL at this: “Baz and I sat outside drinking strong cups of tea and eating chocolate biscuits” – but good for you leaving the poor things alone. They’ll be gone soon enough. Who knows: maybe they will even keep all other undesirable critters away!


  10. I cant with rodents. Thats tough to deal with. Im not a ‘pet person’ at all… I cant even handle a DOG or a CAT…I could NEVER deal with a possum!

    But… it is VERY sweet of you to let this run its course while making sure the possums are safe and uninjured.


  11. Oh, Selma, if I didn’t adore you before….now I really do! That is so sweet and caring to take care of the babies like that!
    You have a gracious, loving heart! Don’t ever change!!!


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