Opossum Patrol: Readers Share Control Strategies

Nearly 900 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "Do you take any steps to limit opossums around your farm to reduce the chance your horses will get EPM?"

results of poll on opossum control

Results were as follows: 
  • Yes: 52.39% (461)
  • No: 47.61% (419)

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  • i just catch them or shoot them so they won't eat my chickens, i didn't know anything about EPM!
  • shoot them
  • Keep Food Covered and stored inside.
  • Keep food waste in enclosed garbage cans, limited access to barn cats food, no outside food scraps
  • set traps
  • have a barn cat and dogs. keep horse feed in cans
  • Take up cat food at night; shoot possums I see.
  • shoot them
  • Trap & shoot
  • We have six dogs to roam the land
  • shoot them on sight
  • live traps
  • I board so I do not have hands on control, but I do have my horse vaccinated with the new/trial vacc
  • no food sources, trap and euthanatize
  • Cats
  • don'[t have possums here
  • Shoot them when we see them. We also do not keep cat food around and we make horse feed inaccessabl
  • all feeds are covered tightly in containers and my husband hunts them**
  • Keep the brush trimmed back well away from pastures.
  • cats
  • I have dogs that kill opossums
  • what should you do
  • irradicate them
  • keep food & trash locked up
  • shoot them
  • dogs
  • shoot them
  • Shoot them on sight when found in or near the barn. It's awful, but works.
  • have a dog to discourage them.
  • Have 3 dogs that eradicate them in the barn and on our property.
  • Pick up spilled feed quickly, cut grass short around the barn area, use repellents
  • kill !, shovel into trash bag my dream horse has EPM!
  • Trap and elliminate them.
  • Shoot them on site
  • We never take feed in the pastures or paddocks.
  • the only time we see possum is on the road not around the barn
  • Wire fencing and dogs
  • plenty of dogs
  • No popossums up Here yet, as far as I know.
  • Has anyone tested waterfowl (Canadian geese) for this disease?
  • .22 Mag. and a spot light
  • there is only one type of good opossum!
  • My dog , Gus . He's the best varmit dog around. He'll sit under a tree all night just waiting for a
  • Try to capture and eliminate them.
  • A dog that REALLY doesn't like them
  • Set traps, with no luck. My Icelandic had EPM this yr.
  • Wire mesch fence to the ground
  • We don't have opossums!
  • feed cats away from horse food storage areas
  • fence with 2x4 wire
  • shoot them
  • No opossums around us.
  • keep water source off ground, keep feed, barn and cat food locked up, shoot them when we see them
  • We keep dogs and cats to help keep wild animals off the property
  • shoot them
  • catch and release; permit foxes to den on property
  • keep my place spotless and feed locked up
  • we have livestock guardian dogs on the job and keep feed in metal cans with lids
  • shoot them dead
  • kill em
  • Opos are too prevalent; no steps are effective
  • Haven't ever seen an opossum here in NW Washington
  • Possums are not really an issue in my area (CO)
  • keep a claen barn area ans shoot any of them we see.
  • Live trap...them kill them:(
  • Keep grain locked away and in steel barrels.
  • Hunt & shoot them, burn carcass
  • trap coon and possium
  • Catch in Hav-a-Hart trap and relocate nowhere near horses (we live in FL and I lost my horse to EPM)
  • There are very few opossums in my area.
  • trap and remove
  • Trap and destroy any we find.
  • i trap and then shoot them!
  • I have Jack Russels
  • shoot them
  • Keep barn closed, feed tubs closed.
  • yes I keep 4 dogs
  • we don't have opossums where I live.
  • Keep them away from the manure pile and clean the manure from the field regularly
  • too arid here for o's
  • electric fence low to the ground to keep out critters
  • leave no grain on the ground under feed buckets
  • No opossums on Vancouver Island
  • we don't really have an issue with oppossums so we haven't had to take any preventative steps...
  • We don't have them in our area of the country
  • Live trapped several over the years, only when I see them.
  • with 26 rhodesian ridge backs, coons, coyotes, possums take off fast
  • kill them
  • use horse designed no climb fencing on my perimeter to limit intrusion from outside critters
  • I shoot 'em all!!!!
  • I limit their access to hay by keeping it in a tightly closed barn.
  • After horses eat I turn the feed bowls upside down. All feed/grain kept in galvanize trash cans.
  • SHOOT AND TRAP THEM
  • We set traps
  • trap them
  • have plenty of dogs
  • The coyotes get them.
  • feed is stored in rodent proof containers
  • WE do not have opossums in Alberta Canada
  • cover feed; use large water tubs which are inaccessible to smaller animals
  • kill all I find
  • have no idea how i'd be able to do that
  • KILL
  • Opossums do not cause EPM.
  • Take up pet food at night to discourage them having a regular source of food.
  • we kill any oppossums that we see on our property.
  • eliminate them
  • we have dogs outside that discourage opossums and raccoons from coming around. They will kill them.
  • My farm dogs keep all vermin off property. Fence off ponds and only provide fresh water&clean tubs
  • Barn is secured against critters.
  • Cyclone fence
  • 22 rifle, pitch fork - and just keep the area around the barn clean & unfriendly to opossums
  • I have had live traps out for years and still had 1 horse to get epm. What else can you do?
  • Keep property tidy!
  • i have jack russels no sweet feed no spilt feed
  • We have humane traps set. We shoot and dispose of the varmit.
  • keep grain in critter tight containers and my Doberman does the rest
  • trap them and move them far far away monthly
  • we don't have any for some reason
  • keep feed and trash out of reach
  • Haven't seen a possum since we moved to Arizona desert; had a lot of them in California however!
  • feed cats at house, transport caught live animals to other place
  • SHOOT THEM
  • This is Florida, there
  • Try to scare them away.
  • shoot and or relocate them
  • I live trap the opposums
  • eliminate access to cat food every night
  • I've only seen one in 12 years.
  • Installed a no-climb horse fence
  • lost 1 horse due to it. Elimate any that are around
  • protect feed from possum. Water from elevated tubs.
  • I don't know how
  • shoot tyhe possums if I see them
  • I keep my feed in metal trash cans. Also keep my hay in a secure shed.
  • my blue healer loves to kill them for me!
  • keep feed locked up and my dogs love to patrol the property
  • trap & remove
  • exterminate
  • Put up cat food at night. I have one horse with EPM already.
  • Trap and shoot them. Do not leave food (i.e., cat food out at night)
  • Not opossums in UK
  • We don't have any opossums where I live
  • set up traps
  • trap and remove
  • I have four dogs that keep the possums running
  • Have never seen an opossum in Wyoming!!
  • trap and remove them, try not to leave to much food for them
  • Wildlife has a hard enough time existing with people without adding to it.
  • Don't leave out catfood.
  • Kill Opossums
  • kill & dispose of
  • keep barn very clean ... lots of activity (dogs) .. shoot on site!!! Goes for raccoons too
  • dogs!
  • Large dogs
  • Keep a dog and keep no garbage or open feed around.
  • fencing that goes down in the ground
  • take late nite walks and leave the dogs out!
  • There are several dogs at my bran. Maybe they help keep opossums away.
  • shoot, shovel, hit & run
  • I had no idea about the danger.
  • keep food covered; shoot every one we see
  • Keep feeds locked up and doors closed. Also have dogs.
  • I water all horses from tanks up off the ground. I feed horses in feeders off the ground.
  • have dogs
  • I board my horses, so I have no control over it
  • trap/relocate or kill
  • I lost a great horse to epm so we KILL all opossums
  • we trap them, then shoot them.
  • let the coyotes have 'em
  • Shoot them.
  • We do not have Opossums problems in Colorado
  • Use a cat door in the feed room door to limit access by feral animals.
  • We shoot the suckers.
  • Trap them and dispose
  • I cover grains and keep hay in barn. we have plenty of predators. dogs, owls, hawks
  • yes, but darn if I didn't just see a opossum in the barn this morning - 1st in 5 years!
  • no barn cats, no cat food around
  • Beat on them with 2x4, trap them, shoot them...
  • clear underbrush, no access to feed rooms, keep dogs on property
  • The barn is closed up tight for the night every night, and lids to feed bins are locked down.
  • I live in Michigan. We don't leave food around, but there is really no way to avoid possoms.
  • Live catch and release, don't leave feed for cats in barn, I have a GREAT dog!!!
  • the dogs naturally keep them away.
  • I no longer live in an area where there are opossums, thank goodness, creepy little creatures!
  • shoot them
  • kill the little demons!!! (have 1 w/EPM)
  • Wish I knew how to
  • wouldn't know what to do
  • wehave coy dogs in our area
  • Keep all foodstuffs in metal containers. All cats and dogs are fed in the house. No food outside.
  • I keep dogs and cats to make the barn and pasture unwelcoming
  • yes,shoot any i see
  • My dogs, rat terriers, won't let them near the property.
  • wWe shoot any that are near horse areas
  • Put away the cat food!
  • shoot them
  • How???
  • all feed (including cat food) is securely locked away.
  • Vaccinate annually. Except this fall, our vet said the vaccine is not available from manufacturer.
  • KEEP ALL FEED CONTAINED, HAVE GUARD DOGS AT NIGHT IN TWENTY YEARS ONLY TWO OPOSSUMS GOT CLOSE
  • Eradicate them
  • We don't have possums around here.
  • shot them
  • keep all feeds tightly covered
  • shoot if possible
  • don't have any opossums here
  • eliminate them
  • Keeping food put away, covering water sources at night.
  • properlystore feed, do not feed off teh ground and use humane traps to capture and remove opossums.
  • We kill possums on sight!
  • fencing, no food outside
  • Make sure they don't have access to food storage areas
  • trap and kill
  • keep garbage up; shoot them if they persist in coming around
  • Set Traps
  • Barn I board at does not limit - but I not seen any opussums around
  • Don't have possums here in the desert
  • None around here.
  • I have lived here all my life and never seen 1 opossum. Thankfully we just don't have them here
  • No cats on the property
  • Shoot possums.
  • human traps and release them out in the wild where there is no farms at all.
  • Keep all feed in tight containers, have a big dog!
  • we are up in Canada where there are no possums
  • no pet food left out of doors;no food in compost pile
  • traps
  • I would if there were opossums where I live.
  • trap and transfer
  • opossums are not common in my area
  • Keep grain in metal cans in closed feed room. Also, have dogs and cats roam the area frequently.
  • I kill them whenever I can.
  • shoot them
  • We have four dogs. They even keep the mice in control.
  • I make sure not to leave any feed out and pick up all uneaten cat food.
  • I rely on a .22 rifle and a good eye to limit the possum population
  • TRAPS AND A .22
  • Keep feed covered. Keep area well lighted.
  • I shoot them if they are on my property
  • With increased activity around the barn and barn cats and dogs we don't have problems with possums.
  • WE do keep our feed in metal containers in a locked storage room in the barn.
  • keep all hay and grain securly covered at all times. clean feed buckets and water buckets daily.
  • trap them and then shoot them
  • check for opossums and elimanate any we find.
  • they are exterminated when found
  • feed the hay off the ground in the pasture
  • Between the dogs and cats, we never see any sign of opossums
  • keep an outside very territorial dog
  • too many in this area to be able to have any control over them!
  • We do not have opossum where i live in Canada
  • as much as I can.
  • I keep live traps set and also use a rifle.
  • shoot them
  • have guard dogs that kill them
  • Live trap and remove if possible, shoot if not possible
  • No opossums in my area so not a risk
  • shoot them
  • We trap/shoot any that cruise the barn looking for food.
  • I have 2 dogs that HATE opossums and they take care of them.
  • we have very few up here in NW Montana.. I will remove them if I see one
  • limiting plantings that attract opposums, let dogs run free at night.
  • Do not keep oat hay or other tastey morsels on the property. Lockup feedrooms, etc....
  • Shoot them!
  • Close up cats/food; as for my horse, supplement to reduce herpes virus level and boost immune system
  • Everything and anything neccesary!
  • Do not have items around that will attract them, such as food.
  • dogs
  • There are no opossum issues in my area
  • We don't have them here!
  • None of those critters in our Pacific NW area-just coyotes and our feisty mare takes care of them .
  • 'possum-killing dogs
  • We have the meanest barn cat you ever saw!
  • Our farm dogs dispatch them
  • Keep my hay source absolutely secured in a separate building with an overhead door.
  • trap and shoot
  • we shoot them
  • dogs
  • Live trap and destroy unwanted captures.
  • Get rid of any possums, keep feed in closed containers, Large Dog
  • shoot'um
  • we kill the little buggars when they show up. Now have a dog to chase them off.
  • open barn doors are screened - pond fenced off.
  • we've tried elec. wire, motion sensor horns and keeping the dogs in the barn at night, all for nada.
  • have a dog who kills them
  • 1. keep grass short. 2. set traps & shoot them. 3.keep clean feed, hay & facilites. 4 read inform.
  • I've never seen one in our area, nor have I heard of EPM here
  • dog patrol
  • Stopped leaving the cats' food out at night
  • This is 1st yr w/opossum and simply making sure there is no cat food at night has helped immensely
  • Thank goodness no possums in NV
  • LOL I don't live where there are opossums!!!
  • keep food up, keep dogs out, and shoot any I see
  • Have skunks but no opossums
  • dogs
  • Trap
  • Trap and kill any possum in my barn.
  • The traffic seems to do a pretty good job of taking care of them!
  • We live in area where ther are no opossums
  • I trap them in a live trap and then I shoot them.
  • live traps
  • Had my wonderful gelding put down for EPM X1 year ago. Now keep areas clean as possible
  • Not sure what I could do to prevent opossums
  • no brush piles or places for them
  • When I do have them in my barn I trap them
  • Grain is kept in an old chest freezer. It is rodent proof and inexpensive.
  • I keep all feedstuffs enclosed and secured
  • pick up any cat food for the barn cats at night, and keep the hay barn doors shut.
  • Keep grain in metal containers
  • I never leave pet food outside.
  • I board.
  • The dogs keep the opossums from being comfortable at our place
  • the horses have no tolerance for strange animals in their pasture
  • trap
  • dispatch all opossoms and raccoons whenever possible
  • kill the little buggers!
  • NO OPOSSUMS!
  • We shoot them on site to prevent disease.
  • It's about host health of the horse. Clear ouot the oppposums, but feed the horses immune systems!
  • No opossums in my country.
  • keep feed secure; watch for critters--just went thru EPM with gelding; luckily is doing well..
  • We have many barn cats and dogs. Also, we trap and move them to Federal Forest land.
  • limit cat food availability; keep areas near barn tidy
  • I board my horses so I expect the stables to take care of this.
  • Put cat food away overnight, keep all horrse feed in closed containers, shoot possums.
  • Kill any opposums in or near the barn
  • I don't know what to do. I can't seem to get them to stop coming back.
  • Dog/barn cats don't tolerate them. Shoot em if we have to.
  • Trained, enthusiastic dogs that are encouraged to hunt con, possoms and coyotes. They are free 24/7
  • Clean up brush in pastures, clean up fruit trees, pick up dead carcus on road
  • I have fenced off my pastures from the creeks on my property as well as keep my water troughs clean.
  • kill them
  • We don't have opossums in the desert (AZ)
  • we don't have opossums in Colorado
  • I kill them every chance I get
  • gun power
  • Diamond-mesh fences on exterior of farm
  • kill and remove them
  • What can you do to limit opossums?
  • We set traps and shoot on site...my mare had EPM 3 years ago. Great vet discovered it early!
  • shoot them
  • trap them and release them in state land about a mile away
  • Limit the food supply; i.e. garbage and cat food are both tightly covered
  • I trap & kill them.
  • I store all feed. I ELIMINATE all opossums
  • Dogs Help
  • KEEP ALL FEED IN METAL CONTAINERS. NEVER LEAVE CAT FOOD OUT AT NIGHT.
  • not sure its possible in the south
  • set live traps and take them to the game reserve
  • Don't have opossums in our area
  • Never see them as we have dogs that keep eveything away
  • short if hitting them with our vehicals what can we do?
  • We shoot them
  • put feed in steel bins they can not get into.
  • Not many around and haven't seen any in my pasture or barn area.
  • Never leave food (horse/cat/dog) around to attrack. No stock tanks - only elevated waterers
  • kill them if they are in the vicinity of the barn, keep the barn clean, no food laying about
  • Four big dogs, three fierce goats, and a watch-donkey maintain law & order in the pastures & barn!
  • Keep feed in metal drums with tight lid, and trap and shoot any that are hanging around.
  • The Dogs Kill them. We had one horse get EPM in 2003. Hood River Oregon has a lot of Opossums!!
  • nasty dog on guard
  • Possums are a plague in the NW. Same precautions as for rats
  • No, I don't even know what I can do!?!?
  • Dogs do a pretty good job
  • few around. i make sure things of interest are secure and H2O sources aren't easy 4 them to reach
  • Trap and eliminate them!
  • The horses spend a lot of time in the timber also. No EPM problems
  • Traps set in the barn and run-in shed. Once in the trap, I put a bullet in their brain.
  • Our dogs help keep them away, and I have gleefully hit one with my car.
  • Seriously doubt opossums are the real problem. 3 horses and the healthiest one gets it and dies? Why
  • don't know what to do.
  • We don't have opossums where I live
  • We had 3 stray dogs decide to live here, nothing else will come on the farm know
  • Keep feed and supplements covered, killed one that would not stay away and caused damage.
  • We trap them and kill them.
  • Keep cat food in airtight container, remove xtra after kitties eat
  • we don't have a problem here in northern mn
  • kill them
  • There are very few possums where I live, but my horse got EPM anyway
  • Our dog kills opossums on sight. Also shoot them if we see them.
  • big white dogs -Great Pyrenees - don't let ANTYHING in the pasture other than horses and sheep
  • keep grain in closed containers and dogs deter the opossums from staying
  • I wouldn't know how to begin...
  • My husband shoots them
  • we leave the radio on at night, which seems to have reduce both the opossums and sink sightings
  • Dug in no-climb wire and dogs.
  • Dirty, nasty little things, I don't even feel bad shooting them.
  • shoot or trap - release away from farms
  • I purchase steam-crimped and pelleting grain and keep tightly closed for all night creatures.
  • I've never seen one here. Plus we have a dog.
  • There are not very many in my area
  • Don't leave any dog/cat food out that would attract them.
  • Lock up my cats and their food at night.
  • Shoot them when I can
  • keep all cat food in a secure place
  • shoot on sight
  • kill them
  • Can't - woods and ponds and wildlife.
  • shoot 'em
  • Live in rural area, trap for mice/rats only

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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