facts and care advice


Treating for stress and shock

Shock is often the number one cause of death in injured wild animals. 

You need to immediately minimise that animal’s shock and stress. Shock is essentially the loss of heat and fluids from the body, which is a natural response to injury. Interaction with humans causes additional stress to an injured animal and this can kill an already shocked animal. So keep in mind that fear, noise, and cold temperatures all contribute to the animal’s stress.

It is essential to get the animal to an experienced carer as soon as possible to minimise stress and to reduce the risk of the animal going into shock. While the animal is in your care, you can reduce this stress by providing:

  • warmth – heat pad, hot water bottle
  • quiet
  • dark
  • fluids.

When transporting the animal please keep the car radio off. 

Keep the animal in an area of your house that is quiet, draft-free and away from family noises and smells (especially pets and young children).

Stabilise the animal by putting in a warm dark box (heat pad/hot water bottle) or secure cage with cover over it (i.e. towel), in a quiet room. Wrap the possum in a blanket or towel and provide an artificial heat source. Monitor the heat regularly to make sure the animal is not overheated (feeling the ears can provide a good indication of temperature).

Provide food and water if you are not able to deliver the possum to a Fauna Rescue member straight away. Do not force feed. Initially offer fluids only. Preboiled water (cooled to warm) can be offered by syringe or from a teaspoon.  Keep the possum covered in the towel/blanket and just uncover the mouth if you are going to offer water. 

Be cautious of juvenile and adult possums as they can inflict serious injuries with their teeth and claws. 

Leave food such as small amounts of chopped up fruit in with the possum but do not attempt to feed it yourself.

Deliver to a Fauna Rescue carer as soon as possible.

Any possum found on the ground during the day is not normal which means it is either sick, injured, dehydrated or misplaced. There are a few things you can do to prevent further harm to the possum and ensure it is as comfortable as possible whilst seeking advice and waiting for help to arrive:

  • Bring your cats/dogs inside.
  • Never give possums milk. You can offer a shallow bowl of water and always provide a safe source of water (not the pets bowl) at the base of the tree during the warmer months.
  • Always take note of exactly where the possum was found (even which tree it was in/near) and pass these details on to the Vet or carer/rescuer attending.
  • If you find an injured possum and can safely contain it, please take it to your nearest Vet and leave details of exactly where the possum was found.
  • If you are not sure about a possums condition whether it requires help or not, please call the Fauna Rescue Hotline on 8289 0896.

Large Possums: put a laundry basket/box over the Possum and weigh it down with a brick or something heavy so it can’t escape until a rescuer arrives. You can supply a shallow bowl of water. If it is in direct sunlight or it’s a hot day, put a cold wet towel over the possum before placing the basket/box on top, then call the Fauna Rescue Hotline on 8289 0896.

Small Possums: you need to scoop the baby up and either wrap it in a blanket and place down your top to keep warm, or organise a small box with a heat source e.g. a wheat bag or hot water bottle/drink bottle with hot tap water (not boiled kettle water). Place the baby on a towel with the heat source next to it then call the Fauna Rescue Hotline on 8289 0896.

Deceased Possum with a Baby in the Pouch: please pick mum up and place her in a box with a heat source against the pouch e.g. a wheat bag or hot water bottle/drink bottle with hot tap water (not boiled kettle water). Do not take the baby out of the pouch or off the teat. You can call the Fauna Rescue Hotline on 8289 0896 or take mum and baby to the nearest Vet.

Sick/Injured Possums up a Tree or in a Roller Door: these are more difficult rescues and may be referred to the RSPCA 1300 477 722.

Does the possum need to come into care?

Sometimes injuries are obvious for instance; broken bones or limb, or having been hit by a car.

If a baby or adult possum is found out in the open during day light hours it means something is wrong with the animal and they will require capturing and assessment by an experienced carer.

Baby possums found without their mother should come into care if they are to survive. Juvenile possums may venture short distances from their mothers so you will need to observe the possum to see if their mother is close by.

Possums and the law In South Australia, all possums are protected (ie safeguarded against collecting, hunting or other activities) under the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1972.


It is advisable to wear leather or thick gloves when handling a possum.

Most injured or orphaned possums are found on the ground. 

You can catch them by throwing a towel over them and scooping them up. 

Place one hand at neck and the other at base of tail (if no spinal injuries). If spinal injuries leave possum in the position it has chosen to be in and lift into carrier without changing its chosen position. Do not lift a possum from under its front legs like a baby. Always have their full bodyweight supported by one hand under their rear and another holding them upright but slightly curled around the chest cavity.

Fauna Rescue own several possum traps which members and the public can use to trap injured possums if required. 

Fauna Rescue does not assist the public to remove possums sleeping in roof spaces. Please contact us if you require a referral to a possum friendly pest controller.


The common brushtail possum which is normally varying shades of grey in colour with a white, yellow or golden belly.

They commonly have a black tail, white patches on the back of their ears and a bright pink nose. They have rabbit like ears and an elongated face.

Did you know that female brushtails usually only rear one joey (twins is rare).

An adult common brushtail possum should weigh between 1.5 – 4kg, with males often reaching a larger size than females

Adult Weight: 1,500 g to 4,000 g (1.5 kg – 4.0 kg)

Fur Colour: Upper body – Grey; Underside – Cream to caramel; Ears & cheeks – Cream to caramel; Tail – Black

Nose: Pink

Ears: Pointed like a rabbit

Behaviour: Aggressive & vocal if threatened



The common ringtail possum which is normally varying shades of grey, brown or black in colour with a white

They commonly have long tails with a white tip, and a small triangular ears with a short face.

An adult common ringtail possum should weigh between 0.7-1.1kg, with males often reaching a larger
size than females.

Did you know that female ringtails usually rear up to three joeys (twins and triples are common)

Adult Weight: 700 g to 1,100 g (0.7 kg – 1.1 kg)

Fur Colour: Upper body – Grey to black/brown; Underside – Cream to caramel; Ears & cheeks – Cream to caramel; Tail – top 2/3 – black/brown, bottom; Tail bottom 1/3 – usually white to caramel

Nose: Brown to black

Ears: Small and rounded

Behaviour: Less aggressive than Brushtail but caution still needed, will “statue” rather than attack


*These are only very basic initial instructions.  Please contact your nearest Wildlife Group and speak to an experienced carer for more information or to organise to place the possum into care.

Injured Wildlife Hotlines

Wildlife Rescue:
(08) 8289 0896
Koala Rescue:
1300 KOALAS (562 527)
Bat Rescue:
(08) 8486 1139


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Young Brushtail Possum
Brushtail Possums
Ringtail Possums

Possum Boxes Available to order for $50

Our boxes are 300mm square x approx 400mm high, they are made from 12mm and 15mm exterior grade plywood and come with a painted finish.

Instructions on fixing and placing the box into the right position is included

Call: 08 8289 0896
Email: info@faunarescue.org.au