Possum Marks?

Something is climbing (up or down?) my Sydney Red Gum tree. I’m pretty sure it’s a possum (even I can’t blame the bandicoot this time). But whether it’s a brushtail, ringtail, sugar glider or all of the above, I don’t know.

I’m pretty sure it isn’t living in the tree which is too young to really house anything other than a passing forager. We planted the tree in the first year we bought the house so that would make it about 8 years old. It was just a small sapling then and it has grown and grown and grown (no doubt trying to rise above the oak tree to reach a reliable source of sunlight) to where now it actually attracts native fauna into our garden.

The large scratch marks (with lighter slide scratches under them) are clearly from a possum, but what about the smaller ones? They seem a bit too random to be a possum’s claws. Both the large and small scratches go all the way up the tree (see the photo on the left below).

There are several large chunks missing out of the bark near the ground – chest height and lower (see the photo on the right below which shows the chunks as well as both types of scratches). Something has been chewing the bark. No idea what or why. I’ve heard sugar gliders make V-shaped cuts in the bark of gum trees to drink the sap, but this looks more aggressive and too close to the ground for that.

possum scratches on gum treescratch marks up gum tree









Unfortunately our avocado tree is also under attack. Today, when Frank was up in the ladder harvesting the last batch of kumquats, he could see into the avocado which stands right next to the kumquat. He discovered that many of its branches have had their bark chewed off in great strips, almost ring barking it in some places. That could only be a possum. I’m not sure how to stop it. I’ve tied a couple of plastic bags around the trunk above the branches overhanging the fence so if it climbs that way, maybe it will be deterred. I suspect it will be as effective as a scarecrow (that is, not especially effective but it will at least give me the satisfaction of trying). The tree is covered in new buds and has lots of growth but in the last few days it’s lost tons of leaves. Now I know why.


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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3 Responses to Possum Marks?

  1. gosh Laura that doesn’t look good – I hope you get your culprit. Can you get hold of a trap?

  2. I suppose I could get hold of a trap but I would rather have possums and lose some of my harvest. I doubt a trap would be very helpful anyway since new possums would just wander in. There are possums all over this area because we’re near a national park and the neighbourhood is quite old and full of mature trees. So it’s lucky I like the native fauna! In fact, we’ve made a nest box for sugar gliders that we’re probably going to install in our gum tree. If you can’t beat ’em, join em’.

  3. Pingback: What the ? | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

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