Building a possum box

Building a possum box

If you have possums in your yard or living in your roof, you may want to consider building them a possum box. Possum boxes can help to keep our critically endangered Western Ringtail Possums safe from domestic pets and foxes, giving them somewhere warm and cosy to live and raise their young. 

In the natural environment, possums would usually build their dreys (homes) using sticks, twigs, leafy branches, or in hollowed-out sections of old trees. Environmental scientist, writer, educator, and wildlife filmmaker Simon Cherriman describes the role that hollowed-out trees play in housing animals:
“A great diversity of Australian wildlife relies on hollow cavities in native trees (known as tree-hollows) to meet their nesting or roosting requirements. Such hollows take hundreds of years to form naturally, but sadly, due to massive land clearing since European settlement in Australia, countless numbers have been lost. This plight has severely impacted native wildlife,” said Simon.


How can you help?

Building a possum box can be a very simple task that your whole family can do, or it can be more complex depending on your skill set. The simplest way to make a possum drey is with two hanging planter pots. A more complex design involves making a box with plywood or recycled pine pallet wood. We will go through these two options in more detail.


Hanging planter pot possum dreys  

Step 1: You will need two hanging planter baskets. These can be purchased from your local nursery or hardware store.

Step 2: Attach the two hanging baskets together so that they make a hollow ball. Affix them with cable ties or wire.

Step 3: Cut a hole in the upper planter box, near the wire where they join together. It needs to be big enough to allow possums in and out.

Step 4: Finish your possum drey with some fresh peppermint leaves on the outside for camouflage and protection, and make a cosy drey with leaves on the inside.

Step 5: Find a suitable site to hang your possum drey. Using the hanging chain and other rope or wire, secure your possum drey in a sheltered tree. Choose somewhere out of reach of predators and sheltered from the wind and rain as much as possible.

Click here for a full set of instructions for making a planter pot possum drey.

Timber Possum Boxes  

A longer-lasting possum box can be constructed from timber. These can be purchased from Busselton Men’s Shed, Dunsborough Men’s Shed, or you can make your own.

Tips on making a possum box:

– Any timber can be used to construct the box, as long as it is weather resistant. 

– To stop rain from getting in the top of the box, ensure there is an overhang on all sides and the front.

– The wood does not have to be smooth. Having some texture or extra grip on the front is recommended to allow the possums to climb into the box. 

– The possum box should be installed far enough off the ground to ensure it is safe from predators. Ideally, it should be 4m off the ground or higher.

Installing a Possum Box

  • Choose a suitable tree greater than 10 years old preferably without hollows or dreys. The tree must be alive – no dead trunks. Ideally, choose Peppermint Trees- Agonis flexuosa as they are a possums food source. In the absence of a suitable Peppermint Tree, Marri, Jarrah, Tuart or a known habitat tree can be used.
  • Place the box 4m or higher above the ground amongst the branches and leaves to provide protection when the possum emerges from predators such as owls.
  • Do not place the box on the main trunk, as this can be climbed by predators. Place the box out in the branches of the tree.
  • Attach box to tree using wire inserted through a piece of old hose (to protect tree) or plastic coated clothesline (available from hardware stores). Black, stretchy tree tie or rope could also be used.
  • Face the nest box away from the prevailing weather – south-east is suggested, if possible. Stormy weather comes mostly from the south/south west. West-facing boxes are too hot, and the low beams of the sun on dusk may impair the vision of the possum when it emerges in the evening.
  • Face the door close to the tree trunk to reduce the time the animal is exposed leaving the box. Small branches in front of the box will impede the entrance or flight of possible predators.
  • If painting the possum box, use an outdoor, weather-proof paint in a camouflaged colour. This will also help prolong the life of the box.

Other Resources

Western Ringtail Possum brochure

Guide to making a possum house, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage