Trap shy possums

Possums travel to seasonal food sources (see link below), so if you can find out when a certain species is on their menu, you might be able to site your traps when they begin to travel to the area, intercepting some of them. I actually trap more possums when they have a bountiful supply of food. This must be due to the fact that the population is temporarily dense, so the odds of possums encountering my traps is way higher than normal.
Possum.pdf (
Your region may have a similar chart for possum activity.

The pine plantation nearby is a possum magnet when the pines start to produce pollen in May, so I put my traps fairly close to each other in a relatively small area. My 6 Timms are probably an average distance apart of 15m, to make it hard for possums to miss them. When they travel from tree-to-tree, there’s a good chance that they’ll see and smell what’s on offer. Surely, some possums must get sick of eating the same food night after night, so that might play a role.

Once there’s a decent dip in kills, I move my traps to another spot nearby. If there’s a road between 2 blocks of pines, I’ll just move them to the other side, for example. I’m able to do this because I operate a small number of traps in a small area, and check them 3-4 times a week when the population is high. The dog helps me to site traps, because she heads to the trees that have seen recent action, which definitely helps!
Because I don’t run a lot of traps over a large area, I want to kill as many possums as I can before they disperse, breed, and then become harder to trap, with my traps spread out farther apart, which takes me longer to visit them.

Cam speedy is one of the best trappers in the country. Watch his videos and read his articles to get professional advice. I’m a B-Grade possum trapper, at best.

Get the buggers!


Thanks for all the useful advice throughout this post, here is what we did.

In January we took out all the possum traps which weren’t catching (Warrior, Trapinator and Goodnature A12). Mid-March we revisited the block with some brand new legholds. There was no time for prefeeding so we just put them out at trees that had previously hosted one of those other traps. We used flour/curry powder blaze, a bit of tinfoil, and half an apple as lure.

In 2 nights with 5 traps (so 10 trapnights) we got 2 possums which I think is a good demo that changing the approach as advised by some of you helpful people was a good move.

Interesting about the feijoas, Willowflat, but we’re well outside the feijoa zone here. In past efforts trapping in urban Dunedin, apples were attractive but our target possums out in the remote bush don’t seem to go for them either. But other aromatics do work.

Will try prefeeding possums if we can manage a longer visit in future, I know it works for rats in Victor traps (1-2 nights baited but not set and on the 3rd night set and catch)

There are 3 large feijoa trees on our property that probably drop 100 every day, so I have the luxury of using some in my traps. It’s a shame that trappers without access to free ones couldn’t buy a small number from a store and freeze them for other times of the year, just to mix things up, but the damn things turn to mush when you thaw them out.

It’s a shame that you haven’t had any luck with apples. Apple chunks coated with cinnamon have been very effective for me and other trappers.
It’s possible that small mandarins might work. We have to stay on alert when our mandarins and navel oranges are fruiting, so If you have the time and money to buy
5-10 small mandarins for your traps, they might work. In cool weather, I’d imagine that they could last a while.

Pre-feeding is a good rule of thumb for all kinds of trapping. The idea of predators getting a free meal out of my traps is torturous, especially if they don’t return to the traps when they’re armed, but the technique definitely pays off.

Best of luck. I hope the experiments pay off.

We have had success using foam (from an old mattress) soaked in peanut oil in our Timms traps - we are trapping just south of Dunedin in and surrounding the wetlands.

That’s a great technique. I’m glad to hear that it’s effective. How big are the pieces of foam?

I don’t have an old mattress to pinch foam from, but a small sponge should work the same way, I reckon. Pieces of wool, too.

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Yeah, ours are about 30x30mm give or take a bit, there’s the odd skinny one! As long as its something able to hold the oil ok, and to stay together well enough when the possum pulls on it I’d say it would work.

The good thing about the oil is it doesn’t go mouldy or rotten like some other lures, it keeps it’s smell for quite a while, and when it does need a refresh, we just sub out the sponges for freshly soaked ones, take the old ones back in and pour some boiling water and dishwashing liquid over them, let them soak, rinse them out and they’re ready to go out again.

Thanks for the instructions. I have a few more questions for you.

Which trap(s) are you using?

How often do you swap out the lures?

Is peanut oil the only lure that you’ve used?
I’d be interested to find out if peanut oil with cinnamon is more attractive than peanut oil on its own. It should be, in theory. With rats, at least, I’ve had far greater success using 2 or more lures simultaneously, because a larger % of the population is likely to find one, or both, of the lures attractive.

Have you only trapped possums?
I would expect you to be able to trap every predator large enough to trigger your traps.
You might not trap any adults with it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you were able to kill some juvenile feral cats with peanut oil.

I hope that your traps are seeing a lot of action.


Hey yeah all good!

We have a variety of traps out across our network, the ones we are using the peanut oil sponges in are just Timms traps.
We’ve been refreshing the lure every couple of months give or take, and still catching the odd animal right up until it’s time to refresh - we aren’t trapping huge possum numbers just due to the location and setup of the lines, however the reason we are trapping those areas is to protect new plantings.

Peanut oil is the main lure we have used, we did use apples initially and were going to trial jam soaked sponges but that was very messy and would just go mouldy and gross pretty fast. I actually can’t remember what got us onto trialling the peanut oil, and it has worked very well. That is a good idea to do a combination lure - we’re about to put some new traps out this week and our other current line needs a refresh too so we might try some peanut/cinnamon combos and see what happens!

With the peanut oil lure in the Timms we have trapped mostly possums, which are what we were targeting with trap placement choice, as well as a few hedgehogs and one (or maybe two) ferrets. Our timms network hasn’t ever been very big though, at the moment we have about 12 active on a line of ~10 traps and two others in a separate location. At the most we have about 40 traps out over 4 lines/locations, once the numbers were right down we took the traps out and have just been watching for sign, and monitoring with chew cards. 2 of those locations had the traps out at the end of the year, last monitoring had zero possum chews, we’re due to go back again over the coming weeks so will see what transpires!

The traps in general have had a lot of action over the last few months, masses of ferrets in our BT200 network! It’s quieting down now, but will be interested to see how things go over the next few months - we’ve had traps out for just over a year now, but of course only had a few to begin with and have built up the lines over time, so not sure what was really going on at this time last year.

I use Timms and an A12. The forestry companies surrounding my property do periodic possum control, so I can go long periods without trapping one. With so few possums around, sponge lures are a great alternative to re-luring traps with short-lived lures that rarely see any action.

If your lures are trapping ferrets, then it’s only a matter of time before you trap a cat.

Thanks again!

Update on this topic I started last year.
As I have mentioned below, we bought 5 legholds and have been setting them out when we visit, normally monthly.
A couple of times have had 2 catches over 10 trapnights (5 traps x 2 nights) using fruit plus flour blaze as lures.
On latest visit, used small squirt of aniseed on a rag tied up the tree beyond the trap. Best result ever, 5 large possums, 2 with joeys in pouch. Plus a big heavy rat.
OK, setting legholds and needing to kill animal yourself is not for everyone, but thanks to all those who suggested legholds as they are working well at least at this season with this lure.

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