EPM Threat to Horses from Opossums

Opossums and your horse’s health

One disease that horse owners in North America (particularly on the east coast) should be aware of is EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis).

EPM is a neurological disease that can be difficult to diagnose due to varying symptoms. Moreover, it is important that owners are aware of the disease as it can be fatal if it goes untreated.

Furthermore, this particular parasite attacks the brain and spinal cord. Ultimately, it causes devastating and long-lasting damage to the nervous system.

Luckily, Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis is treatable and horses recover well if it is treated promptly. Additionally, most horses show improvement after a few weeks of treatment.

How is EPM Contracted?

The primary cause of EPM is opossum droppings. Furthermore, horses contract the disease from eating contaminated feed or grazing.

What are the symptoms?

EPM presents itself subtly or severely.  It can present symptoms similar to several other neurological diseases in horses. Common symptoms shown are:

  • Changes in gait, lameness
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Problems balancing with lifted hoof
  • Incoordination (worsens going up or down slopes)
  • Muscle atrophy, usually over shoulders
  • Paralysis of muscles of the eyes, face, or mouth, evident by drooping eyes, ears, or lips.
  • Mild depression
  • Trouble swallowing, dropping feed.
  • Leaning on a wall for balance
  • Loss of sensation along the face, neck, or body.
  • A drooping lip or repeated facial twitch
  • Change in vision
  • Dropped feed or trouble swallowing
  • Head tilt
  • Drooping ear
  • Changes in behavior, including throwing the rider

How is EPM prevented?

As there are no preventable vaccines for EPM, the most effective preventative measure is to keep opossums away from horses and their feed. Ultimately, we recommend keeping feed covered when not in use and removing any garbage as soon as possible.

If you have a problem with opossums on your property, particularly if they pose a threat to your horse’s safety, don’t hesitate to call us for professional opossum removal.

Animal Poisons and Repellents

There’s a large market for various types of animal repellents and deterrents but most are not successful or effective. We always recommend trapping and physical removal of animals as the most effective way to ensure the animals do not return. 

We’ll go over a few different repellents and explain why we find them ineffective.

The Different Types of Animal Repellents

Ultrasonic Devices/Noise Makers

These devices produce different sound frequencies depending on the animals they are intended to repel. They use frequencies higher than 20 kHz/kilohertz or lower than 20 kHz. On some devices, the user can adjust the frequency.

The sound is intended to irritate pesky critters and prevent them from creating their living spaces close to where the noise originates from.

The issue with these is that they can be audible to certain individuals depending on their age and hearing sensitivity. These noises can also disturb your household pets or nearby household pets. It’s also not a humane method, some scientific studies have shown that animals react to a rise in body temperature rising or seizures. Then, the animal may pass in an enclosed space which leads to a tricky animal extraction. 

Ultimately, scientific studies completed on ultrasonic devices have no control group; there is no concrete scientific evidence to back up their efficiency. Many customers we have talked to mention they have tried the ultrasonic device and it did not solve their issues.  On some occasions, we have seen bats hanging off of ultrasonic devices! 

Sprays/Powders

By looking at the low reviews of many different repellent sprays, one can see that these are ineffective. Most liquid repellents are used for types of gardening and planting. Repellent sprays are supposed to make the animal so uncomfortable in a space the animal would normally be comfortable at that they leave and find a new residence. 

One of the biggest issues with sprays is that you will need to continue purchasing them and they do not keep animals away permanently. Often, the offending animals keep returning to the areas they find to be optimal living spaces hoping the repellent has worn off. More often than not, the repellents are ineffective even for short-term use. 

To keep animals from returning, we always suggest physical removal of the animal and exclusion to keep the animal from returning. By sealing off potential entry points around homes, sheds, decks, etc then the animals are not provided with an opportunity to exploit the area.  

Poisons

The most common issue we see with poisons is that animals will often die from the poison and become trapped in a small area. They emit a foul odor and depending on where they wedge themselves, it’s a costly repair. Especially, small rodents like mice and rats that often become trapped in walls after ingesting poison. 

If this does or has happened, we do offer the removal of dead animals.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, we always recommend the physical removal of all animals followed by exclusion and remediation. Give us a call or use our contact form if you’re noticing animals in or around your home!

House Sparrows

House Sparrows

House sparrows may look harmless, but they are another harmful and invasive bird species like starlings. The house sparrows originated in the middle east and have since spread throughout the world; they are extremely adaptable to their environment.

They are found wherever people are; cities, neighborhoods, and farms. However, they avoid dense woods. They will often cluster in dense bushes.

What do they look like?

Male house sparrows are brightly colored with gray heads, white cheeks, a black bib, and a rufous neck. Female house sparrows are mainly plain brown with gray-brown underparts. Moreover, each of their backs is striped with black and brown feathers.

What do they do?

House sparrows prefer to nest in or near buildings, they also get very noisy. Sparrows will create their nests above shutters, doorways, dryer vents, or other undesirable areas. Not only are they noisy, but they also leave debris like nesting materials and droppings near their nesting areas. Their droppings are hazardous and can contain histoplasmosis which can be harmful and cause illness in humans.

Like the starling, house sparrows are an invasive bird species that are harmful to native birds like bluebirds. They also intimidate other species by dominating feeders and nests.

The removal process

Because house sparrows are considered an invasive bird species, they are not a protected species. For jobs such as birds behind shutters or birds above doorway headers, we are able to remove the nesting material and debris. During clean-up, we take all proper precautions and use PPE throughout the process due to the many diseases bids carry.

We then are able to birdproof your home. Depending on where the birds are nesting, we may need to perform exclusion on shutters, doorways, and any potential entry points.

Give us a call or contact us if you have noticed sparrows in or around your home!

Doorway Headers for Bird Nesting

Doorway Header

As birds nesting behind shutters is increasing throughout the warmer months, we offer custom bird-proofing solutions for doorways and windows.

Earlier this spring, we completed a doorway header installation for a client who had birds living above her doorway. She would have her groceries delivered to her home and before she could get to them, the birds would leave droppings on them!

How do doorway headers work?

In layman’s terms, we create a custom-bent cover constructed out of color-matched aluminum to install onto the home. Ultimately, it prevents birds from nesting above doorways and windows and matches the home’s aesthetics.

A common solution other technicians use is bird spikes. While these are effective methods of bird proofing for larger birds, they do not create a seamless, or finished, look that matches the rest of the home’s fixtures, nor do they prevent nesting by smaller birds like starlings and house sparrows that typically nest in these areas.

The Bird Proofing Process

Most doorway headers we install are in conjunction with our custom shutter solutions. Bird nests on porches and patios create unwanted noise, especially in the morning. Moreover, competitive bird species like the house sparrow and starling compete with other birds for their nesting areas which also contributes to noise and mess.

In addition to scattered nesting material around the area, their droppings are usually scattered around the affected area. The droppings are hazardous and can contain diseases so bird clean-up must be performed by a professional. Birds carry histoplasmosis which can be fatal to humans.

Once we identify all places where the birds are nesting, we are able to perform a thorough cleanup. We always use PPE and proper techniques when cleaning up bird messes to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Once the area is clean, we proof the doorways and shutters if applicable.

If you’re having issues with bird nesting, feel free to give us a call or use our contact form!

Feral Cats in PA

Outdoor Cat

Throughout all seasons, we receive a lot of calls for feral cats. However, our business does not handle nor provide trapping and removal of domesticated animals

We do have recommendations on who to contact and what to do with feral cats explained below.

About Feral Cats

The ASPCA recommends TNR for feral cats which stands for trap, neuter, and release. Furthermore, their cat squads will diminish over time if the practice is employed. When TNR is employed, mating habits that include roaming, yowling, spraying, and fighting decreased. 

According to Humane Pennsylvania, feral cats that are placed in shelters will most likely be euthanized. As feral cats have never been socialized by people, they are extremely fearful of humans. They are socialized within their colonies, but they would most often not enjoy living indoors and would be unable to be placed into homes. 

Outdoor cats also harm wildlife. According to the American Bird Conservancy, cats kill 2.4 billion birds every year in the United States. Moreover, researchers from the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Center predicted that small mammal death from outdoor felines ranges between 6.3 to 22.3 billion each year.

How Do I Keep Cats Away From My Home?

To make your property less appealing to cats, we recommend making sure any garbage is thoroughly secured and no pet food is left outside. This is a sure way to attract stray cats and other critters like raccoons and possums.  

Moreover, there are repellents available but generally, repellents are ineffective. It will not prevent the cats from returning to the area.

Ultimately, we recommend contacting your local township or borough office for referrals or guidance to deal with feral cats.

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