The opossum is the only marsupial in North America. It is a nocturnal animal that has a very broad diet. They eat mainly carrion, however, they will also eat insects, reptiles, birds, fruit, garbage, and pet food. Their broad diet allows them to take advantage of many sources of food provided by human habitation and can be found in areas inhabited by humans.
Opossums that make their home near areas inhabited by humans can be distressing due to their smelly nesting habits, foul smelling anal discharge, and fights with outside pets over pet food. They are also potential carriers of several diseases including tuberculosis, salmonella, spotted fever, and yellow fever. They are important reservoirs of leptospirosis (hemorrhagic jaundice) in wildlife and humans. Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine and feces of infected animals. Humans can contract the disease by eating unwashed produce, fallen fruit, of by putting unwashed hands into their mouths. Opossums are also heavily infected with ticks, fleas, mites, and lice whigh are vectors for several diseases.