I am an avid opossum lover as some of you have seen in the "Special Needs Fur Babies" thread.
I thought I would give everyone some opossum facts to help deal with one in the future and maybe save a life.
First: The Virginia Opossum
The opossum is the only native marsupial to North America. Like their kangaroo cousins, they have a pouch where the joeys develop.
Opossums have a lower body temperature than most mammals. There has never been a recorded case of rabies in Opossums because of this reason.
Opossums are immune to venomous snake bites.
They have a prehensile tail that they use more like a seat belt when climbing and do not sleep upside down.
Opossums have thumbs on their back feet.
Opossums are nocturnal.
Opossums have horrible vision (4ft absolute maximum in my experience) but very sensitive hearing.
Opossums are horrible at defending themselves.
Opossums do indeed "play possum" known as defensive thanatosis. This is when the animal actually goes into an involuntary comatose state.
Opossums are naturally very clean, have very soft fur, and smell like spring rain (Not kidding!). Because the fact that they are nomadic, they do not set up a nest site and often sleep wherever they can find a safe place come morning. You would look gross too if you spent the night in a gutter.
Second: Unwanted Opossums
Opossums travel around 2 miles per night looking for food. If you do not have easy access to food at your home or barn, they are unlikely to stick around for too long.
Opossums can NOT jump. So a live trap can be as easy as a a tall garbage can with food at the bottom.
Opossums are generally docile and slow moving. However, any cornered animal is dangerous and opossums are no exception. Be wary of their extremely long and sharp teeth. These teeth are not used for fighting or because they are aggressive, these teeth are specifically for consuming anything edible.
Keep dogs away from an opossum passing through your yard.
Third: Opossums and Horses
Unfortunately, opossums are a confirmed carrier of EPM. They can pass the disease by defecating in a feed bucket, water trough, or grazing pasture.
It is unlikely that EPM be found on neighboring farms.
Even though Opossums do not "nest", keeping holes in lofts patched and feed bins closed is the best way to deter opossums from staying in your barn.
Please let me know if anyone has questions regarding Opossums. I just wanted to shed some light on these cool marsupials.
Here are a few more website concerning Opossums
Frequently Asked Questions - Opossum Problems and Solutions