Box Specifications


I don't think the nesting habits of suburban brushtails are known in great detail. We've seen them sleeping in various unlikely and uncomfortable places such as rolled-up garage doors, stacks of old car tyres and in the forks of trees. On the other hand, our comparatively safe and comfortable possum boxes have often remained unused for months at a stretch. This might be a result of the possums deliberately giving one spot a rest to put predators off the scent, but I suspect that our nestbox design is far from perfect.


There are a number of commercial suppliers of possum boxes, and also plans for boxes available on the web. Most of these appear to be little more than modified bird nesting boxes. I think that comparatively little science has gone into nestbox design and we're a long way from having the ideal nestbox.


On this page, I'll describe the nest boxes we have in detail in the hope that it might add (if only by a minuscule amount) to the sum of knowledge in this area.




Box 1


Box 1
Internal Dimensions (D x W x H)350 x 350 x 500 mm
Hole DiameterInitially 150mm, but later reduced to 115 mm
Hole Facing Direction174°
Height of box above ground level5.01 m
LocationFixed to the South side of a flooded gum (E. grandis)
Date Box Installed19/2/2005
First Visited by PossumsSome time prior to 29/4/2005
Date Camera Installed16/7/2005
First Occupied by PossumsFirst definite sighting 17/7/2005 but probably earlier
Camera TypeSwann Day-and-Night

Comments: This is the very first box put up and has undergone a number of changes over time. The hole was originally 150 mm diameter, and on 30/12/2005 (after it was discovered that the brushtails preferred the ringtail box with a 100 mm entrance) this was reduced to 115 mm by the use of a collar. A small facia board was added at the same time. On 11/12/2008 the box fell out of the tree. After this it was painted, and reinstated with a mounting frame, new roof and new camera.


This box is often used by brushtails, but seems less popular now than it was at first.



Box 2


Box 2
Internal Dimensions (D x W x H)200 x 200 x 450 mm
Hole Diameter100 mm
Hole Facing Direction110°
Height of box above ground level4.20 m
LocationFixed to the North side of a fiddlewood tree (Citharexylum sp.)
Date Box Installed3/5/2005
First Visited by PossumsUnknown
Date Camera InstalledProbably November 2005 - camera replaced 7/10/2013
First Occupied by PossumsFirst definite sighting 27/12/2005 but probably earlier
Camera TypeJaycar QC3473 "pinhole" camera with separate IR illuminator

Comments: This box was originally intended for ringtails, hence the very small dimensions. Despite this, it was for a long time favoured by brushtails over all of the other boxes. In August 2009, it was finally used by a ringtail for the first time. For a few months, a ringtail (Gumdrop) used it to bring up her babies. Over the next few years, she visited intermittently with further babies, until Feb 2012 when she was attacked and eaten by a carpet python in this box. Since that time this box has been much less popular than before, however (based on total number of visits of both ringtails and brushtails) this still remains the most popular box overall.


On one occasion, a sugar glider visited this box, but did not sleep in it and has never returned.



Box 3


Box 3
Internal Dimensions (D x W x H)270 x 300 x 495 mm
Hole Diameter110 mm
Hole Facing Direction137°
Height of box above ground level4.66 m
LocationFixed to the South side of a flooded gum (E. grandis)
Date Box Installed26/1/2009
Date Camera Installed26/1/2009
First Visited by Possums28/1/2009
First Occupied by Possums30/1/2009
Camera TypeElectus Part QC3474 B&W CCD with separate IR illuminator

Comments: This box has proved very popular. It was inspected by a number of possums within a couple of days of installation and was in use soon after. An extra flap has been fixed inside the front fascia board; this was done to reduce light entering the box, which was causing false triggering of motion detection in the early morning. This has reduced the problem, but not eliminated it.



Box 4


Box 4
Internal Dimensions (D x W x H)270 x 300 x 511-608 (sloping roof) mm
Hole Diameter110 mm
Hole Facing Direction123°
Height of box above ground level5.89 m
LocationFixed to the South wall of the house, just below roof level.
Date Box Installed24/5/2009
Date Camera Installed24/5/2009
First Visited by Possums25/5/2009
First Occupied by Possums4/8/2009
Camera TypeJaycar Part QC3474 B&W CCD with separate IR illuminator

Comments: This box was attached to the house, rather than a tree, in a attempt to attract possums who live in a neighbour's ceiling space. This has been of limited success; the box remained unused for several months after installation and was subsequently only rarely used by possums. Although this box is well-shaded, the camera sometimes suffers from false triggering caused by sunlight reflecting off a neighbour's pool.


On a number of occasions, carpet pythons have slept in this box, which may partly explain its unpopularity.



Box 5 [Now Removed]


Box 5
Internal Dimensions (D x W x H)570 x 270 x 285 mm
Hole Diameter110 mm
Hole Facing Direction292°, however the hole is completely covered by a flap and
entry is from underneath.
Height of box above ground level2.82 m
LocationFixed to the South wall of the house, just below roof level.
Date Box Installed20/12/2009
Date Camera Installed10/4/2010
First Visited by Possumsunknown, probably prior to 10/4/2010
First Occupied by Possums24/4/2010
Box Removed31/10/2012
Camera TypeJaycar Part QC3474 B&W CCD with separate IR illuminator

Comments: This box has now been removed.


It was installed in a hurry as a refuge when possums were evicted from a neighbour's ceiling and garage door. It did not achieve this aim; the possums ignored the box and found places to live elsewhere. This box was intended to be similar to the locations in which these possums had been living and breaks a lot of the rules; it's considerably below the recommended height of 4 m and the hole faces the wrong direction. Owing to the hurry in which this box was put up, there was a considerable delay before a camera was fitted.


This box was occasionally visited by brushtails and ringtails, but had only been slept in four times in the three years in which it was up.



Box 6


Box 6
Internal Dimensions (D x W x H)218 x 216 x 492 mm
Hole Diameter40 mm
Hole Facing Direction212°
Height of box above ground level5.07 m
LocationFixed to the North side of a flooded gum, close to box 3
Date Box Installed2/1/2010
Date Camera Installed2/1/2010
First Visited by Glidersnever
First Occupied by Glidersnever
Camera TypeJaycar Part QC3474 B&W CCD with separate IR illuminator

Comments: This box is intended for sugar gliders and is constructed differently to the others. The entrance hole is in the back of the box, facing towards the tree trunk (supposedly sugar gliders like having a concealed entrance where they can come and go without being observed). This box incorporates 25 mm of styrofoam insulation, lined internally with 7 mm plywood, on the three walls away from the tree. A separate ceiling of 7mm ply has also been used inside the box.


This box has yet to attract any gliders. In September of 2010 it was taken over by a swarm of bees. These were removed in October 2010 and the box taken down for repairs. The box was only returned to the tree in April 2012.



Box 7


Box 7
Internal Dimensions (D x W x H)290 x 290 x 500 mm (octagonal)
Hole Diameter110 mm
Hole Facing Direction202°
Height of box above ground level1.76 m
LocationOn top of a cupboard inside garage
Date Box Installed4/8/2010
Date Camera Installed4/8/2010
First Visited by Possums5/8/2010
First Occupied by Possums21/10/2010
Camera TypeJaycar Part QC3474 B&W CCD with separate IR illuminator

Comments: This box was placed in the garage to entice a possum (Yoshi) out of a tyre in which she had been sleeping. It was never used by Yoshi, but has subsequently been used by other possums (Švejk particularly liked it). This box was built to more closely resemble a tree hollow than the others; it is octagonal in cross-section and a piece of tree branch was used as a collar around the entrance hole.


This box was significantly more difficult to construct than a simple rectangular one, but I feel this design is worth considering in future.