Peter the Possum Man is frequently asked to install a possum box in the garden of a house where a possum has been evicted from the roof space. Suitable tree holes are scarce, so any additional nest boxes are a great help for many types of wildlife. It is impossible to predict which possum will move into a new possum box. Unfortunately you can’t put a possum into the possum box and expect them to live there.
However, they are very territorial so it is likely to be occupied by the dominant possum from the immediate area or one of his close relatives. When a possum has recently been evicted from the roof of a house, it will usually go to a safe place that it knows which often means sharing the accommodation of a close relative.
From that new base it will search out opportunities for its own new home and might then discover any recently installed possum boxes. If a possum is happy with its existing “accommodation”, it is unlikely to move to a new box, since they are creatures of habit and prefer to use places they know and ones that have their scent.
But possums are always checking out anything new in their territorial area, so you can be sure a new box will soon be investigated. There are always younger possums who are encouraged to leave their parent’s home to find their own place. That event is usually triggered when their mother has a new baby in the pouch.
Ideally the box should be installed at least 2 metres, preferably over 3 metres, from the ground and facing south or east to reduce the heat from the afternoon sun. Placing some cut pieces of banana or apple on or near the box will increase animal visitors (but not just possums!) Some nesting material could be placed inside, but that is not essential. It is still a mystery as to exactly what features encourage a possum to select its sleeping place but brush-tails certainly prefer a hollow that is dry and dark.