Natural Skin Care Newsletter - February 2009


Natural skin care products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products

WILDCRAFTED HERBAL PRODUCTS

Your Natural Skin & Personal Care Solution


Natural skin care products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products

Natural Skin Care Newsletter: February 2009 Issue

Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products

Introduction

Welcome to the February Issue of the Natural Skin Care Newsletter.

With the new year already well on the way and Summer (in Australia) being rather on the warm side, we thought we'd provide you with some interesting news/articles so you can put up your feet, enjoy a long cool drink (or maybe a hot one if you're in Chicago... we shiver for you) and enjoy our Newsletter.

Once again the news have been warning us of toxic this and that and we've included two articles that talk about cancer causing substances in products many of us use every day - well, maybe no longer.

Kitty provides some good hints and tips on how to rid your roof of those noisy Possums (this is probably one for Aussies), but hopefully will interest some of our Non-Australian readers also. She's excelled herself on this one and it is quite long, so if you'd like to read it in a full-page format, you can just use the link below the title in the contents list and a new page will open with the whole article in an easy printable format.

We hope you will enjoy our February Newsletter and as always invite you to send us feedback and comments or even ideas for future articles.

Happy reading...

 

Index of the February Issue of the Natural Skin Care Newsletter:

(You can click on the topics below which will take you to the article of choice on this page, or simply scroll down and read each one)

 

Sun Protection (Part II): Nanotechnology in Sunscreens - a Probable Cancer Risk
(by Danny & Susan Siegenthaler)

Are Natural and Organic Skin Care Products Too Expensive?
(by Danny & Susan Siegenthaler)

Mouthwash linked to Oral Cancer
(by Danny & Susan Siegenthaler)

About An Essential Oil of Interest: Clove Oil
(by Danny & Susan Siegenthaler)

Kitty's Corner - What's That Noise In The Roof?
You can print this article by clicking HERE for easy printing
(by Kitty the Cat)

Newsletter - February 2009

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News At Wildcrafted

 

Changes to Email forms and Contact forms

There have been a few changes taking place, especially with respect to our website.

Due to spammers (Spammers are people who abuse electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages) using our email addresses to spam people all over the world, some of the servers that provide our customers with their email accounts actually blocked emails from us - but not from the spammers...

So we had to firstly change servers (not of any interest to you), but another thing we've had to do is to remove all our basic email forms from our site.

This means, that now nobody can simply click on a 'Contact Us' or similar link, fill in some text in various fields and hit the submit button to send us an email directly.

Instead, if anyone wishes to send us an email, they'll need to open their email program, type in our email address (wildcrafted[at]wildcrafted.com.au), change the '[at]' to '@' and finally they can send us an email.

We didn't really want to do this, because it's cumbersome and not as easy as just typing some information into a couple of text fields on a form and hit the send/submit button.

Unfortunately, until we can find a safe solution to providing quick and easy contact forms, anyone that wishes to contact us will need to use their email program. Sorry.

 

Launching our Non Alcohol-based, 100% Natural Mouth Refresher

As you may have heard in the news (an article is also in this Newsletter that provides the basic information broadcast on a variety of news media) many of the very popular mouthwashes use up to 26% alcohole, which researchers have now linked to causing mouth cancer - great, another one.

So, to solve this problem for our customers, we have re-introduced one of our 'old' formulations that we used to use for our patients in our clinic. The Mouth Refresher uses only essential oils, herbal extracts in a vegetable glycerine and Rosewater base.

 

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Nanotechnology in Sunscreens: Cancer Risk

In Part I, we looked at sunscreen factors (SPFs) and their possible health risks and in a previous article we looked at the use of nanotechnology in the cosmetics industry. Today, scientists from the CSIRO have shown, under laboratory conditions, that nano particles of metal oxides (as used in sunscreen lotions) can penetrate cells and damage DNA.

Below is a transcript from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) reporting on the potential cancer risk resulting from the use of nanotechnology in sunscreen lotions.

Safety concerns over high-tech sunscreens

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Broadcast: 17/12/2008

Reporter: Kirstin Murray

Nanotechnology has been a revolutionary science utilised to improve water supplies, screen for viruses and increase durability in food among its other uses. Nanoscience has also been used to produce products such as stain resistant clothing and is often found in cosmetic products such as anti-ageing creams and sunscreen. With this technology being so widely used, questions are being raised as to how safe nanotechnology is in products that are rubbed directly onto human skin.

HEATHER EWART, PRESENTER: The revolutionary science of nanotechnology, which engineers tiny particles the size of an atom, has transformed the world we live in. And within two years, it's expected to be a $1 trillion industry. Scientists have used the technology to improve water supplies, increase the durability of food, screen for viruses and create new forms of drug delivery. It's not surprising the cosmetics industry has seen the appeal, with nano particles now common ingredients of many anti-ageing creams, hair products and sunscreen.

But how safe is nanotechnology in products that are rubbed directly onto human skin? Kirstin Murray reports.

KIRSTIN MURRAY, REPORTER: Go to any beach in Australian this summer and you'll see the slip, slop, slap sun safety message in action. But for holiday makers trying to do the right thing by slopping on sunscreen, there's a warning.

GEORGIA MILLER, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: There are sunscreens out there being sold right now that contain nano ingredients that could be causing quite serious toxicity problems.

TOM FAUNCE, MEDICINE & LAW, ANU: The big issue is to what extent do they get inside the cells through the dead skin on the outer surface of the body? To what extent do they accumulate? To what extent do they actually cause long-term injury? We really don't have this information.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Many sunscreens contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide - great reflectors of the sun's rays. But they leave a thick, sticky, white layer on the skin. Making these ingredients nano-sized mean they rub on clear. But that's what's causing concern. These nano particles are around 200 times smaller than human blood cells.

TOM FAUNCE: A nanometre is a billionth of a metre. So we're talking about particles that are about 40 nanometres - very small, but they actually have a larger surface area at that size. So they still have the capacity - in fact an enhanced capacity in some cases - to reflect ultra-violet rays. The concern however is what happens once these particles get inside the human body.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Unable to convince the Government to remove the products from shelves, Friends of the Earth is taking on manufacturers, alerting consumers of the potential dangers of particular sunscreens.

GEORGIA MILLER: These are sunscreens that are now using things like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide - sun blockers - in nano form. What this means is the companies that are using them have ground down the size of these particles to make them extremely small.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: To date, Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration's been confident nano sunscreens don't penetrate healthy skin. But Dr Tom Faunce, who lectures in Medicine and Law at the ANU, says scientists can't be certain the sunscreens aren't absorbed by compromised skin and he fears the TGA was too quick to approve the lotions for sale.

TOM FAUNCE: They didn't look at nano particles getting into the skin where you put them over flexural creases, when people are flexing; when you put them over damaged or aged skin. My concern really is that I think the precautionary principle should have been applied in this case rather than letting these products go out onto the market. [The precautionary principle basically says: if in doubt, don’t]

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Scientists fear young skin could also be prone to absorbing the tiny metal oxide particles, but the Cancer Council says it wants proof nano sunscreens are dangerous before it will recommend against their use.

IAN OLVER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CANCER COUNCIL: These products have been in use now for quite some time without any report of an adverse event. And so, if you believe there could be, I think you've got to test for it. [Isn’t this the wrong way ‘round – test first, then use…?]

KIRSTIN MURRAY: The Cancer Council ceased stocking nano sunscreens last year, but its CEO says it was because of a change in supplier rather than any health concerns. Professor Ian Olver says the most immediate risk to people's health would be if they stopped using sunscreen altogether.

IAN OLVER: We have definite evidence that 1,600 Australians die of skin cancer. And I don't think you can talk about banning or restricting a product unless you actually have evidence that it's dangerous against the good that it does.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Scientists have established under laboratory conditions nano particles of metal oxides can penetrate cells and damage DNA. Now the CSIRO will test these sunscreens directly on humans to work out how much gets absorbed during outdoor use.

MAXINE MCCALL, CSIRO SCIENTIST: There's the concern that there could be free radical generation on the skin, potentially damage when the nano particles get into cells in the body if they don't dissolve. And, potentially, because they could interact with proteins in the cell or with DNA which codes - which has the genetic information - that, yes, the worst case scenario, I suspect, could be development of cancer. But we don't know. That's what we're trying to find out.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Dr Maxine McCall, who heads up the CSIRO's research into nano safety, says it'll be two to three years before they reach a conclusion on nano sunscreens.

MAXINE MCCALL: At the moment, we just don't have enough information to make informed decisions. There are a number of sunscreens available. People can choose which sunscreen they want.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: For consumers, selecting which sunscreens to buy proves difficult. At last count, the TGA estimated 30 per cent of sunscreens contained metal oxide nano particles. But in a recent survey conducted by Friends of the Earth, no manufacturer selling its product in Australia admitted to using nano versions. And for now, there's nothing forcing sunscreen makers to declare nano ingredients in labels.

GEORGIA MILLER: Despite growing evidence of problems and growing red warning flags, we're actually finding companies are less willing to talk now than they were a couple of years ago about their use of nano particles, and that's really concerning.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: A recent NSW parliamentary inquiry agreed there was, "... a strong case for labelling requirements," and also recommended, "... nano versions of existing chemicals be assessed as new chemicals". So far, the Government hasn't responded.

TOM FAUNCE: The regulators and the companies have been reluctant to call nano forms a new chemical entity because to do so under our existing regulatory system would require them to then start generating substantial amounts of new safety data, which is very expensive.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: There's one company in Australia recommending its workers avoid certain sunscreens - not because of any threat to human health, but because of the harm to its products. BlueScope Steel noticed hand and finger-shaped damage to the coating of their metal roofs and concluded nano sunscreen worn by installers had caused the equivalent of 15 years worth of weathering in only six weeks. Scientists say the mixture of sunscreen, sun and water caused the production of free radicals.

TOM FAUNCE: We're now starting to understand, for example, that the anatase form of titanium dioxide, which is one of the particles in sunscreens, has a photo catalytic effect in certain circumstances. And this is the problem that we're playing some catch-up with the science.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: The TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia) says it continues to actively monitor and assess scientific reports, but so far no unique nanotechnology specific health hazard has been identified. While the CSIRO says a lot more research needs to be done, it too advises people to continue using sunscreen.

MAXINE MCCALL: It's far better to not get burnt now than to worry about the long-term implications of the experiments we're doing. Wait until we find out what the information is and we'll be publishing it when we have the information.

HEATHER EWART: Kirstin Murray reporting.

So, what does it all mean?

Well, we know zinc cream is a great, safe sunscreen that’s been used by Australians for decades.

The problem is that it forms a white, sticky film on the surface of the skin and this is considered ‘unsightly’. So, the chemists went to work and figured out that by reducing the size of the SPFs (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) they still have the same function of reflecting and blocking harmful UV-rays from the sun, but do not form a white sticky film on the skin.

Here’s the problem, the skin, a natural barrier, will not readily absorb everything we put on it. The skin will however only absorb molecules that are small enough to penetrate through the dead skin layers – this is why the traditionally used zinc cream, which contains large molecules stays on the skin.

However, nano-particles do get absorbed into the skin and worse, according to the CSIRO, into the living cells. They have shown that the cell’s DNA is damaged as a results. What this translates into is that there is a real risk of developing cancer as a direct result of damage to the DNA.

In a nut-shell, what researchers have shown is that the reduced size of these sunscreens (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) have a potentially serious health effect on your skin.

What about your skin care products that contain SPFs?

So far we’ve looked at sunscreen lotions, but what about the skin care products that contain these sunscreens? Well, there’s no difference. If nano-particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are used to provide the sun protection, then these are absorbed into the skin. What is worse, a moisturiser is designed to ‘transport’ molecules into the living layers of the skin and therefore the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are aided in their absorption.
Once again, science is showing that the ‘old ways’ of using a holistic, natural approach to skin and health care is the only way to go and minimizes the risk of unwittingly doing harm.

Natural ingredients in skin and personal care products that are not derived, synthesised, or manipulated are simply the safest choice. That’s why Wildcrafted Herbal Products does not use any sunscreen factors in our products and relies on the effectiveness of antioxidants.

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Are Natural and Organic Skin Care Products Too Expensive?

There is occasionally discussion among consumers about the retail prices of natural and organic products. Some people wonder if they are being charged a fair price for the goods they purchase or if they are just being ‘taken for a ride’ on what could be the latest fad for  ‘natural and organic’ products. This article hopes to shed some light on some of the main factors that influence the retail prices of natural and organic products.

We are asked daily in our business about the cost of our products: some people want to know, given that our products are based on organic and natural ingredients, why they are so inexpensive and others ask why our products cost so much. Two different questions asked from two different perspectives.

The first question is asked from the belief that organic and natural raw ingredients are frequently high in price and so it is expected that products based on these types of ingredients would be expensive. The other perspective is asked from the belief that the production of natural and organic ingredients (well, they do grown on trees don’t they?”) should cost less than the manufacture of synthetic or mass-produced ingredients and thus products based on these should be inexpensive.

The first question is probably closer to the truth than the second in its assumption about the cost of ingredients that are natural and organic.

The production of natural and organic goods, be they foods or raw materials used in further manufacturing, is labour intensive and the demand is currently relatively small compared to the mainstream. In addition, organic producers must go through a cost intensive process to achieve organic certification of their products. These three factors are primary contributors to the basic gross costs of natural and organic products.

Leaving aside global economic crises, the cost of essential oils can significantly influence the ultimate price of natural and organic skin care and personal care products that contain these ingredients. Growing, harvesting, oil extraction, quality testing, market demand and availability all play roles in this.

Essential oils are extracted from the leaves, roots, flowers, fruits and nuts of plants that may be grown as commercial crops or may be wild-harvested (although the latter occurs less and less frequently today due to conservation concerns). Extraction processes vary according to the part of the plant from which the oil is to be extracted and the quality of the oil required at the end of the process. In keeping with increasing demand for pure and high quality essential oils, extraction methods have become more sophisticated and technology-based on the one hand whilst growing and harvesting techniques have returned to more traditional, sustainable and labour-intensive methods.

For the most part, the amount of plant material required to produce a kilogram of essential oil can be huge. For example, it has been estimated that it takes about 500kg of rose petals to produce 1 litre of rose oil (and individual rose petals don’t weigh very much!).

Climatic conditions have a major influence on essential oil prices. For example, a bad season in which there is insufficient rainfall or the occurrence of natural disasters such as storms, hail, floods and fires, can affect the amount of plant material available for harvesting and therefore, the amount of essential oil that can be extracted. In this scenario, a limited amount of essential oil available to the market can cause a dramatic increase in price. Man–made disasters such as wars also have a detrimental effect on the availability of many of our much-loved essential oils.

Australia has a relatively small essential oil producing industry, with most of the essential oils sold in Australia imported from elsewhere. Included in the list of ‘elsewhere’ is Hungary, China, India, Egypt, West Indies, Thailand, Italy, USA, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, France, Somalia, Madagascar, Spain, Brazil, United Kingdom, Paraguay, Bulgaria and Tunisia. On average, of the most commonly sold essential oils available in Australia, only 16% are produced here.

We won’t even bother to factor in costs like import duties and other taxes on the imported essential oils.

Market forces also exert an influence on the cost of essential oils. One of the most useful and sought after essential oils in the perfumery and cosmetics industries is Rose Oil and this of course, increases its demand in the market place. The average cost of 1 kilogram of Certified Organic Rose Otto oil is AU$12,000!!! Amazingly, this is not the most expensive of the essential oils.

It is true that essential oils from plants that grow abundantly, easily and have a high essential oil content are less expensive. However, these are also often the essential oils that are less useful in skin care and body care formulations.

The average price of a 25ml bottle of pure certified organic essential oil is currently AU$72.00, so it can be seen that skin and body care products containing pure certified organic essential oils may have a good excuse to be more expensive than the average mass-produced, synthetic-based Brand X product.

Why then, you may well ask, do manufacturer’s put certified organic essential oils into their products? Why not leave the nice aromas out altogether?

The answer is simply that essential oils are not in the products solely for their wonderful aromas. Essential oils have amazing and often profound direct beneficial effects on the skin and hair as well as producing beneficial psychological and psychosomatic effects via their influence on the nervous and hormonal systems.

Natural and organic skin and body care products that contain essential oils are not just exerting a superficial or cosmetic effect on your skin but also have the potential to positively influence your health and well-being, with effects that are definitely more than skin deep.

So, to return to the original question of whether the cost of organic and natural skin care products is too expensive or too inexpensive, it all depends on what’s in them and how much of the ingredients a product contains.

At Wildcrafted, our products contain therapeutic quantities of ingredients, this by necessity makes them expensive to manufacture. However, our costs are minimised, because we do not distribute them through traditional supply chains. That is we supply our products directly to our customers via our on-line store, which means they are not as expensive as they would be if customers where able to buy them at a local store.

If that were the case, the retail price of our products would be approximately double that of what our customers are currently paying.

Wildcrafted’s aim has always been to provide the highest possible product quality and effectiveness at an affordable price.

We hope that we have been able to shed a little bit of light on some of the contributing factors involved. We also hope that we have been able to show that the health benefits gained from using an organic and natural product go beyond cosmetic improvement to your skin and hair.

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Mouthwash Linked to Causing Oral Cancer

 

Below is a transcript from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) reporting on the potential cancer risk resulting from the use Mouthwash.

Mouthwash linked with increased cancer risk

Posted Sun Jan 11, 2009 7:45am AEDT; Updated Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:10am AEDT

Dental experts are warning mouthwash could cause oral cancer and should be made available on prescription only. A review published in the Australian Dental Journal has linked mouthwash containing alcohol to an increased risk of developing the deadly disease.

The alcohol in mouthwash is believed to allow cancer causing compounds to attack the lining of the mouth more easily. The review author, Michael McCullough, is an Associate Professor in Oral medicine at Melbourne University. He says dentists need to be aware of the risks of mouthwash.

"If they are going to recommend alcohol-containing products then they recommend it for a good reason, for a short period of time," he said. "With this evidence that we've reviewed, we think it's not advisable for them to recommend it for the long, over a long period of time."

He says oral cancer examinations should be part of any dental check up. "It should be just part of a regular examination so that when patients should be attending their dentist regularly for their teeth but also as part of that they should, in effect, have an oral cancer screening," he said.

"The vast majority of dentists do that, we just need to document it and tell the patients that's why we're doing it." Professor McCullough says he is also concerned about mouthwash products that are readily available in supermarkets. "There are products out there that are being recommended that have high levels of alcohol," he said.

"The most common is up at about 26 per cent alcohol in mouthwashes which is about twice as much as in wine and is being recommended as a product to use more than once a day, over an extended period of time to benefit the oral cavity." But the New South Wales Cancer Institute's Professor Jim Bishop says the research forming the basis of the report does not specify the degree of risk.

He says the institute wants to commission more research into the issue. "We don't know what sort of risk we're talking about with people who use mouthwash regularly... it might be quite low or it might be high so we need to know the degree of risk that's involved," he said.

More than 800 Australians are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. About half of them die within five years of being diagnosed.

Non Alcohol-based, 100% Natural Mouthwash

How To Avoid Risking Mouth Cancer

Alcohol has been used in herbal medicine for millennia to extract active ingredients from medicinal herbs. It is a well established fact, that alcohol will aid in the transportation of other chemicals (natural or otherwise) through the mucousa into underlying tissues and/or the blood stream. This is particularly effective in the oral cavity and the digestive tract, which have a rich blood supply.

There is however a safe and effective alternative. Choose a mouthwash that is not alcohol-based and only contains natural ingredients such as essential oils of Spearmint, Ginger, Lemon and Clove oil, as well as other herbal extracts that are known for their antiseptic properties.

Wildcrafted's non alcohol-based, safe and effective Mouthwash will keep your mouth and breath clean and fresh, naturally.

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About An Essential Oilof Interest: Clove Oil (Eugenia caryophyllata)

 

ImageBotanical Name:
Eugenia caryophyllata

Family:
Myrtaceae

Parts Used:
Flower buds (dried)

Principal Constituents:

Gum, tannin, caryophyline.

Essential oil: 70-80% eugenol, aceteugenol, methyl alcohol, methyl salicylate, furfurol, pinene, vaniline and caryophyllene.

Description:

The clove tree is a small evergreen with light grey leaves and a smooth bark, growing in the Moluccas, Réunion, the Antilles and Madagascar.

Uses in Natural Skin Care Products:

Not generally used for skin care

Colve Oil (Eugenia caryophyllata) is used In Wildcrafted's


Uses in Traditional Medicine:

Actions, Indications & Applications:

Actions:
Antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, aphrodisiac and stimulating properties.

Indications & Applications:
The oil is used for treating a variety of health disorders including toothaches, indigestion, cough, asthma, headache, stress and blood impurities.

 

 

The information provided here is not for the purpose of self diagnosis or self treatment. It is provided for the sole purpose of providing general information about herbs used in herbal medicine. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

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Susan and I hope you've enjoyed the articls and information provided in our Newsletter and look forward to any comments and feedback you may have. We'd also like to encourage all of you to suggest topics you would like to see us cover.

In good health

Danny & Susan Siegenthaler

 

© Copyright: Wildcrafted Herbal Products, 2009

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Wildcrafted's Natural Skin Care Newsletter - Back Issues

Kitty's Corner

Kitty

Hello to you all, and a hearty Miau.

I hope you found last month's article interesting and helpful.

This month we'll look at:

WHAT’S THAT NOISE IN THE ROOF?

Like so many other people in Australia we have possums living in our roof. Not just one possum but at lest three seem to have come to an uneasy truce and are sharing our roof space. I can hear them scrambling and squabbling as they leave to go on their food patrol each night and again on their return just before the sun rises. What a noisy bunch they are!!  They certainly don’t seem to care too much about stealth like we cats do!

For the most part, my family don’t seem to mind sharing the roof with the possums and even seem to like the fact that there are native animals living with us. But lately I have heard my family talking about the possible structural damage that the possums can cause in the roof space.

We know that some people aren’t too fussed about having possums around and try everything that they can to ‘get rid of them’. They seem to be successful, but I think that their possums end up coming to live with us as they have no where else to go once they are forced out of the nice, comfortable and safe nests that they have built in other people’s roofs.

As the possums’ habitat becomes smaller and smaller, they have less and less suitable tree hollows to live in and food to eat and are faced with more and more predation by domestic pets as well as their usual predators like owls, hawks and eagles. It’s a difficult situation and that’s for sure! Most of our neighbours have one or two dogs and often more than one cat and they seem to like to cut down trees quite a lot too. What is a homeless possum to do?

Possums are very controversial animals as it turns out and I decided to find out more about them and how humans can learn how to share living space with possums.

There are two main types of possums that we see in our garden – the Common Brush-tail Possum and the Common Ringtail Possum.

Common Brush-tail Possums

Image

Brush-tail Possums are protected animals. They prefer to live in hollow logs or dead trees during the day and come out at night to search for food. In cities and residential areas their natural homes are often scarce and they will take advantage of broken roof tiles, loose iron sheets and unfinished building structures to shelter in ceiling, wall and floor cavities of houses.
Brush-tails are sturdy-looking possums with greyish fur and a long black bushy tail, large ears and pointed faces. They are very strong and use their clawed, front paws for climbing and holding food while they eat.

Ringtail Possums

Image

Although there are many types of Ringtail Possums, the Common Ringtail Possum is the one we most often see in our part of Australia. It has a dark brown or grey coat over its back with a creamy under-belly. Its ears are short and rounded, its face is short and it has a white tip on the end of its tail, which unlike the Common Brushtail, is not fluffy.
Ringtail possums are much smaller than Brushtails ranging from 600mm to 800mm (including tail length) and weighing around 1kg as adults.
Ringtails live in hollow limbs of trees or in spherical nests made of shredded grass or dense vegetation. They feed mostly on leaves, flowers and fruits. And are very cute!!!

Are There Really ‘Lots of Possums” Around?
Like most animals that live in the wild, possums have good times and bad times. When rain has been scarce and food sources are poor, possums will not breed so prolifically. On the other hand, when there has been enough rain their food sources in the following season will be plentiful and it is then that possums tend to produce more offspring and it seems as though there is a ‘possum plague’. It is then possums discover that the roofs of houses make very secure and comfortable places to build their nests.

Sometimes people hear scratching and gnawing in the walls and the roof and think that its the possums but it’s more likely to be rats, so we have to be careful not to blame possums for all the racket that we may hear in the roof at night!

Status of Possums
Possums are protected native animals in New South Wales and people have to have a license from the National Parks and Wildlife Service if they want to trap and remove a possum from their roof or from their property.
Relocating possums to new territory is a last resort and is generally undertaken by an officer of the NPWS.

Generally, possums are not permitted to be moved more than 50 metres away from their place of capture as they have very clearly defined territories to which they become very attached. If you move a possum out of its territory into that of another possum, chances are that it will die of starvation as the original possum will strongly defend its piece of turf (or tree). Also, if access to the roof space is not closed up another possum will simply move in once the original possum has been removed.
The best idea is to make friends with your possum and ensure that it has an alternate place to live on your property once it is removed from your roof. This will discourage other possums from moving in.

What Do You Do If You Have Roof-Dwelling Possums?
Being nocturnal animals, possums keep different hours to humans and as they are also noisy (not exactly light-footed anyway), possums and humans tend to come into conflict. Possums also have a habit of getting stuck in chimneys and wall cavities and have to be rescued. These tend to be the main reasons that humans don’t like possums living in their roofs. So what can you do to discourage possums from moving into your roof or to remove them once they are there?

To Discourage Possums
Firstly, ensure that there are no places under the eaves or between your roof tiles where possums can squeeze through into the roof cavity. The spaces that possums can get into can be surprisingly small even though possums themselves can grow to the size of a large cat. If you discover an opening, make sure that it is closed up securely and repair any broken or dislodged roof tiles. Ensure that there are no possums already living in your roof before you close off any access points.
Secondly, don’t feed your possums. If you want to provide them with food it is better to grow possum friendly food trees in the garden at some distance from the house.
Thirdly, put possum boxes in some of your trees. (More about possum boxes and how to make them below).

To Remove Possums from Your Roof
The following are some steps that you can take to humanely remove a possum from your roof WITHOUT TRAPPING:
1. Provide an alternative home for your possum by constructing a sturdy, weatherproof possum house (see directions below);
2. If possible, get inside your roof and try to locate the possum’s nest. The nest material, which has the possum’s scent in it, should be placed into the new house to encourage the possum to use its new home;
3. Securely fix the possum house to a tree in or near your yard. Place it at least 4 meters (12 feet) from the ground so that the possum will be out of reach of domestic pets.
4. To encourage the possum to investigate its new house, put some apple or banana in or near the new possum house;
5. Trim any branches that over-hang the roof to prevent access to the roof;
6. Spread 8 blocks of camphor or 1-2 boxes of moth-balls throughout the roof cavity to repel the possum. DO NOT USE BOTH AS THEY REACT CHEMICALLY TO EACH OTHER.
7. Place a light in the roof cavity and keep it switched on for 3 days and 3 nights. The combination of light and the smell of the camphor should drive the possum out of your roof and hopefully into the possum house you have provided;
8. If you do not hear the possum for a few nights it has probably found a new home. To prevent the possum from returning, block off the access points into your roof with timber, chicken wire or both. Night time is the best time to block off the access points as the possum will have left to forage for food. DO NOT block off the access points unless you are SURE that the possums have left your roof.
9. If the above steps do not deter the possum then you may have to trap it.

TRAPPING POSSUMS
Possums can be removed from your roof by a licensed Pest Control person, but they must be ‘disposed of’ legally. Your local wildlife authority will be able to give you the names of Pest Controllers who are licensed to remove possums. Traps can be hired from local councils or wildlife rescue group.

1. Put up one or two possum-houses in your garden and follow steps 2-7 above to make it attractive to the possum.
2.  IN NEW SOUTH WALES, YOU MUST HAVE A LICENSE OR GET A LICENSED PEST CONTROLLER TO TRAP THE POSSUM.
3. Once the possum is trapped it is removed from the roof and remains in the trap until it is released. The possum must be released back onto your property within 24-36 hours.
4. While the possum is in the trap it must be kept in a cool, dark place to reduce any stress on it.
5. Release the possum back onto your property at dusk as soon as you can.

 

Benefits of Possums in Your Garden
Possums eat insects, nectar and fruits. In the wild, they help to pollinate flowers and spread seeds for the regeneration of natural woodland plants.
In your garden, possums can help to keep insect pests down and to pollinate flowers of native plants. This enables plants to produce fruits that may also serve as a food source for the possums themselves or for other native wildlife.
It can be great fun to sit and watch the possums scampering around your garden at night and kids love to go spotlighting in the garden at night to watch and learn from the possums.

Making Possum Boxes
See Diagrams A & B
You will need: (click here to view diagrams and text)

  • One or two good sized trees to put the possum boxes in
  • A metal strip 350mm long
  • Two heavy gauge flat head stainless steel nails
  • A length of sturdy wire/chain sheathed in a piece of old garden hose
  • 12mm plywood (not particle board) of the following dimensions
    • 1 x 320mm x 270mm for the roof panel
    • 1 x 300mm x 270mm for the floor panel
    • 2 x 300mm x 420mm x 470mm for two side panels
    • 1 x 470mm x 270mm for the back panel
    • 1 x 270mm x 420mm for the front panel
  • Cut a hole 120mm in diameter in the top 1/3rd of the front panel as an entry/exit hole for the possum.
  • A sturdy length of branch to attach to the front of the box below the entry hole.
  • 1 x 270mm length of rubber weather-strip for the rear edge of the roof panel.
  • Drill four 5-7 mm holes in each corner of the floor panel to allow for drainage.
  • Put nesting material or a few hands-ful of dead leaves into the box for comfort and insulation.
  • Several small galvanised nails to nail panels together. (We thought about the possibility of using wood glue as well, but feel that this might not be a good idea due to possible toxicity of the glue material and the smell of the glue that may put the possums off using their new home).
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For now, Miau from me, until next month.

Paw

Source: Kitty the Cat

 

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