Thursday, June 2, 2011

Possum (not so) Magic

Several weeks ago, we started hearing possums running up and down our roof at night. And they were loud. Surprisingly heavy too. Thundering across the roof really quickly, they sounding more like wild cats or buffalo than possums.

Then they started to fight a lot in the evenings. Horrible loud snarling and grunting sounds. Charlene and I have our bedrooms on the side of the house near all the trees, and that’s where they seemed to fight. It was surprisingly scary to listen to, and I’m now pretty convinced that possums fighting is a base sound that audio engineers use when they’re building the soundtracks for horror movies – you know the scene, when the girl-who-should-have-known-better goes running through the bush in the middle of the night with an unseen beast chasing after her? Yep. That’s the sound possum make when they’re fighting. And since the girl in the movies usually ends up dead, I started sleeping with my window closed. Anyway, the fights would last for about 2 or 3 minutes, and end with a shriek, a second delay, and then the thud of one of them hitting the ground 2 stories below. And the fights would go on for hours.

(Actually, someone told us that what we were actually hearing was possums mating, not fighting. But I’ve decided to ignore them and continue with the fighting scenario, which it’s less disturbing).

Anyway, all of that was a tad frightening (and annoying, since I like to have my windows open), but at least it didn’t ruin my life or anything. But last week, the possum found a way into the roof. At first it was “huh? Did you hear that?” and “wow. Sounds like the possum’s in the roof! How funny!” and even “feels like we’ve got people living in an apartment above us with that possum up there”.

But then he decided to mark out what I can only assume is a nest of some sort, right above my bedroom - a little to the right of my desk, to be more specific – and went on to have some kind of psychotic breakdown, since I’m pretty sure he’s as obsessive compulsive as the pewee birds at mum and dad’s place. And though I’m glad the doesn’t seem to be fighting (or mating) up there (for which I am unspeakably grateful) he’s still incredibly loud. And energizer-bunny crazy.

Possums tap. Did you know that? Loudly and constantly. They also scratch on the ceiling for hours at a time, leaving you to stare upwards with a resigned ‘any-moment-now-I’ll-see-a-long-clawed-paw-just-coming-through-the-ceiling’ kind of inevitability. Annoying. Distracting. A tad unnerving. But doable. Especially since I’m hardly ever home anyway.

But last night? Well, last night, the possum won.

1am – woke all confused and couldn’t figure out where the tapping was coming from. Finally woke up enough to realize and stood by my desk clapping loudly for a good few minutes before he stopped and I stumbled back to bed.

2am – Woke up again. This time tried clapping and turning the bathroom light on and off over and over again before he stopped and I stumbled back to bed.

3am – Woke up again. Clapped. Sang. Talked loudly. Turned bathroom light on and off many times.... stumbled back to bed.

4am – Woke up to find myself standing on my chair, outside the bathroom door, banging my drink bottle on the ceiling over and over again. Have no memory of how I got there.

5am – Figured it was probably lucky I don’t own a shotgun, or the roof would have been littered with massive Elma-Fudd-worthy holes.

By 6am, I’d decided to declare war.

I went to work, and I called the RSPCA. Now I was concerned that their suggestions would be a little too humane for the horrible creature in the roof (I was thinking along the lines of poisonous gas or a large bonfire), but I figured they’d be a good place to start. The chirpy animal loving girl on the other end of the phone sounded like she thought the possum was cute (clearly she’s never met one) and suggested we get a pest guy “they do cost money though”, or that we find the hole and patch it up one night when the possum’s left the roof (even though I explained that ours never leaves the roof).

I’ve since perused the website of several pest controllers who specialize in being possum-remover-extraordinaires, and while they tend to have very cool Steve Irwin style outfits and awesome action photos, they do indeed cost money. And I don’t think we’ll have much luck with the ‘finding and fixing the hole myself’ thing, since it’s a two story house and I haven’t forgotten the time I tried to climb a wheelie bin to access the second floor of Emily’s house in Washington last year...

So I did some more research and learned that possums are really bad in the roof because they ruin your installation and chew through wires. So I thought the real estate guys that manage the house we rent would be interested enough in this ‘horrific damage’ to fix the problem for me. They never reply to any of our emails or enquiries, but since this possum is likely ruining their house (“I’m just worried about the instillation and the mess he’s making up there and thought you’d want to know at once”) I thought they might be interested.

The receptionist sounded chirpy and interested and was going to get the agent to call me straight back. But that was 10 hours ago so though I’ll continue to try, he’s obviously going to ignore us about this just like he does with everything else.... *heavy sigh*

So for my first day of war, I’ve been pretty ineffective. And now it’s night time again. And he’s still up there! What is he even doing up there? I mean, they’re nocturnal! He’s supposed to be sleeping (quietly, I’d assume) in the roof during the day, and then going outside to hunt and eat and 'fight' on top of the roof at night. I don’t understand why he won't just leave me alone!

I’m going to head home now, and stare at the man-hole I discovered yesterday on the ceiling next to the main bathroom.... If I had a ladder, and a rabbies-proof-suit, and a shotgun, and a poisonous gas canister, and a gas mask, and if I wasn’t quite so scared that he'd kill me – I’d be tempted to stick my head up through the man-hole and into the roof, and show that possum who’s boss.

Because clearly, right now that darn possum is the boss.

And I just *yawn* I just want to get *yawn* some sleep tonight. That’s all...
*heavy sigh*

xo Tammy


breckster said...

To give you more motivation for day to: have you considered that it is a she, and that she is preparing her gestating nest, because after all she has had several nights of fraternizing.

Hope you got some sleep. The land lord's really should be responsible for that kind of problem. Good luck!

Kara said...

I heard strange sounds from my patio over a few nights and could not figure out what it was (like a grunting sound)...till finally I see a huge possum walking along the garden edge. I went out to have a look and it couldn't care less about me just walked straight pass me as if "whatever.. I am here now!" Goodluck!

Abby said...

What about using a broom to tap, tap, TAP the roof where he/she/they(!?) are nesting? Perhaps you'll be so annoying that he/she.. will move? I'd definitely be trying the real estate people... trying, trying, TRYing, because he/she/etc could be really making a mess up there. Surely they will care? I'd possibly mention your plan to contact the owners and let them know that the real estate guys are being negligent...



Sandy M. said...

Uph! That wasn't Abs, that was me. :)

Bec and Michael said...

Ha ha! I totally know what you mean Tammy :)
When we were living in our first house (when my family first moved to the farm) we had an old wooden stove that we didnt use - mum just used it to display things on - but the chimney was hooked up and we had a mummy possum who would make her nest in the oven and would access it via the chimney. The only thing was, that there was a gap in the flue where one half had slipped down a few cms and I clearly remember brushing my teeth one night (the sink was right beside the old oven) and I could feel that dreadful feeling of someone watching I gazed around the kitchen my eyes suddenly locked onto some big brown ones peering back at me through the gap in the flue!!
Anyway, after that we started feeding her bread with jam on it and each season she'd bring her babies to show us. They then progressed to sitting on top of the fridge to eat their bread and jam, and all was well until she had a boy baby and he grew up and started whizzing everywhere marking his territory....and that was the end of us feeding the possums :)
Good memories though :)

emilysuze said...

While I feel bad about your possum problem, your post made me laugh. Maybe you should mention to your landlord/rental agent that the possum may be nesting and about to drop a litter of babies that will also chew on the wires and cause some crazy damage.

You'll have to let us know how the possum war turns out!

p.s. You were magnificent on the wheelie bin last year! :)

Beth and Robbie said...

1am - Tammy clapping loudly
2am - Tammy singing loudly
3am - Tammy banging her bottle on the roof loudly
4am - Tammy's housemates wrestle and tie her to the bed so she stops acting crazy and waking them up from their peaceful slumber at all hours of the night.

My advice - open the hatch and throw in a couple of poison-soaked vegies or oversized mouse traps. Then wait in anticipation for the fight/mate worthy death shriek.