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aldebono 05-24-2012 03:04 PM

Opossum and your barn/horses
I saw the Raccoon thread and thought I would make one about opossums.

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

Opossum Diet

gigem88 05-24-2012 03:07 PM

Thanks for the info, I'm not a big fan of possums! They give me the willies!!

mls 05-24-2012 03:10 PM

Op - should you be crediting an author with the information?

aldebono 05-24-2012 03:15 PM

Aww they really aren't so bad. Just big kitties!

They really just want to be left alone. And you're right, they don't look very lovable when they are doing their best alligator mouth impersonation.

Here is a picture of my little girl who just passed away. She was the special needs one who was partially paralyzed from a dog attacking her.

And about a month ago. The sweet face I would see each night waiting for her food.

gigem88 05-24-2012 03:18 PM

Yup, the alligator mouth gets me everytime! Sorry about your little girl. I don't see them as much anymore around where I live, but they went about their business and I let them!

aldebono 05-24-2012 03:22 PM

I can credit my National Opossum Societies Opossum Manual, but I did not copy and paste any of it. It's common knowledge stuff to me, so I forget sometimes. Thanks for reminding me to credit someone.
Yes, I am an opossum nerd.

Speed Racer 05-24-2012 03:22 PM

You will never convince me those hideous, mutant rat things are 'cute' or 'wonderful'. :-x

They gross me out, and while I won't run over one on purpose, I don't shed a tear when I see them splatted on the road. I just think, 'Well, one less giant rat to eat my cat food and poop on my hay.' :?

If they hang around too long, they get lead poisoning. Better they die, than my horses having a chance to get EPM.

aldebono 05-24-2012 03:27 PM

To each his own, Speed Racer.

Corporal 05-24-2012 03:27 PM

We have had to euthanize oppossums in our barn. I stopped feeding my cats out there bc the food attracts them AND raccoons. They climb into my loft and shxx in my hay, so they have to go. Every year we put down 1-3 possums or raccoons.
Even if I remove the feed they keep coming back again, usually in the Fall, when it's getting colder.
It's nice that you have the time and energy to rehabilitate them. I'm sorry, but I don't, and I have to think about both my horses, and my chickens re: both creatures.

maura 05-24-2012 03:31 PM

Before they were confirmed as the vector animal for EPM, I raised a litter of them once. The mom kept leaving them in my tack room, either in the sink or the trash can, and I gave up and feed and raised them and eventually released them.

The hissing is pretty alarming, but they're mostly harmless.

Though the one that took up residence in my garage (because of cat food, came in through the cat door) was STINKY.

Sadly, anyplace you have outdoor cats and leave cat food out, or unsecured trash, you're probably going to have opposums.

And as a horse owner and someone who's see several good horses ruined by EPM, I truly think you need to trap and relocate them or trap and shoot them.

If I didn't have horses, and they weren't crapping in my garage, I might take a more "live and let live" view

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