When wildlife enters homes and buildings, they are quickly seen as ‘pests’. This includes rats, mice, insects and birds. The word pest is particularly true for rats and mice, most of which in the Brisbane area are not native animals and so can be treated with poison baits. By contrast, all native wildlife including possums, brush turkeys, and many of our birds, are protected, but many people still refer to pest possums and pest birds. Only officially classed feral birds and animals can be humanely killed. This group includes black rats, brown rats, mice, pigeons, Indian mynahs, and sparrows. Insects can often cause problems, and Brisbane suffers frequent issues with feral colonies of the European Honey Bee.
It must be noted that many native species possess similar habits to feral species and as such cannot be harmed. Species such as:
- Several types of doves that look similar to pigeons
- The crested Pigeon, a native with some vertical head feathers
- Stingless bees (important for fertilizing flowers)
- Larger bees (blue-banded and mason bee)
- The Australian Noisy Miner looks different from the feral Indian Mynah
- Paper wasps that look like the European wasp that has invaded Victoria
- Water, swamp and bush rats, similar to the ship & sewer rats
- Only seen in rural areas, small melomys, which are a mouse-like native
- While it is true that possums are suspected of damaging houses and even causing fires, the damage to electrical cables and plastic water pipes in homes is usually caused by the roof rat, also called ship rat, Rattus rattus.
- It is an excellent climber and very comfortable around human habitation. Where properties are close to open drains and watercourses, the Sewer rat, Rattus norvegicus, is also found to cause problems and for practical purposes, they look the same.
- The slightly smaller, Bush Rats prefer to keep away from humans and rarely eat rat baits; around Brisbane, they are only found near to bushland, creeks and rainforest especially around the D’Aguilar Range.
- The water rat, Hydromys chrysogaster, is very secretive and while it is rat-like, its head is distinctively flatter with large whiskers. Rarely seen as it prefers lakes and dams, but it is found in Brisbane River and at least one was washed into New Farm during the floods, where it feasted on goldfish in a small pond!
The best method for pest control of rodents is to remove hiding places, especially rubbish and long grass, and to remove any food sources including dog food left outside overnight. Also, keep a good look out for signs of tunnelling under walls and paths. All rodents can breed very rapidly, so if you see one there will soon be many, so get a pest controller to lay control baits as soon as you see signs. Externally, the control baits can be placed inside child and pet-proof plastic boxes. Remember, as a general rule native rodents will not eat cereal based rat baits and the plastic boxes we use do not allow possums to eat the bait.
Around Brisbane the main pest birds are pigeons and in some areas, the aggressive feral Indian Mynah. Both these birds tend to force other species away from the buildings and areas they dominate. Pigeons are particularly messy and their nests do attract bird lice. The Indian mynahs attack other native birds and as they breed will gradually come to dominate a street or area; as intelligent social birds, they can be very difficult to catch and control, becoming a pest because of the noise they make as well as very untidy nests and bird lice.
Effective bird pest control methods include high quality bird netting to exclude them permanently from the problem areas; another control method we use is to find entry holes and block them off, especially where those spots are being used for nesting. As with all animals it is food and safe nesting places that attracts birds to your property.
Unlike most pest controllers, our service staff carries a variety of different traps and control devices as well as ladders to investigate roofs and we specialise in controlling pests with both feathers and fur!
Pest Control Facts
It is not correct to refer to possums as pests; they are native animals that need a place to sleep and, like foxes and pigeons, they have been very successful in adapting to living in the urban environment. However, a ‘pest’ is one that causes a problem. Just as an exotic plant can be called a ‘weed’ when it is in the wrong place, even our native animals are labelled pests when they are somewhere unwelcome.
As Peter Possum is not a generalist pest controller we do not often get involved in treating insect and reptile problems; however there are times when unusual issues arise.
For example, possums do get ticks but only when they are injured or sick and cannot groom themselves. Therefore, when customers are concerned about possums infecting their dogs we can confidently say it is NOT an issue. Tick season can be a real concern for pet owners, especially for some areas on the outskirts of Brisbane. See our page about ticks on possums.
Some occupants get very agitated about noises in the roof and walls; often the problem is rats gnawing on wood and sometimes it is possums, but we have had new immigrants to Australia very concerned about sharp loud noises that turned out to be geckos. We can advise on how to deal with geckos but don’t forget they do eat insects and are a historical feature of the traditional Queenslander home. One other unusual noise occurs when people forget to replace their fire alarm battery and the sensor makes a beeping sound that some people mistake for a bird trapped in the roof!
A feature of our work is crawling around in ceilings and sometimes underneath houses, looking for ways possums are accessing building walls, though sometimes we are asked to crawl in spaces to find dead possums and even dead cats! We always need to be aware of spiders in these cavities, especially if there are damp areas that can attract creepy crawlies. Spiders can be venomous and there are a number of species in Brisbane to look out for, so our staff prefers to wear long trousers but that can be unpleasant in summer!
So, call Peter Possum for a humane and effective solution to your Brisbane wildlife pest problem, whatever animal it may be.