How long will dead animals smell for?

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The Smell of Death

Ooooh that smell

Can't you smell that smell

Ooooh that smell

The smell of death surrounds you

—From "That Smell" by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Scientifically, it's a combination of sulfur dioxide, methane, benzene derivatives and long chain hydrocarbons produced as various body parts decompose. But to those familiar with the stench of dead bodies, it's simply the smell of death. Like all smells, it is hard to describe. But unless you're a real vulture, you'll find the smell disgusting and sickening.

Unfortunately, the smell of death can the result of getting rid of pests or rodents, but the resultant smell may make you think that the solution is worse than the problem!

How long will dead animals smell for?

Dead animals will smell until they are completely decomposed or until they are dried out. The damper the site, the longer the odor will last. If a rat dies near a steam pipe, the smell can be horrible for weeks. The odor from a dead mouse may last only a day. In fact, there may be no noticeable odor from a single dead mouse, but several dead mice in the same area could be a problem. A dead rat may smell really bad for a week, but there can be some lingering odor for as long as a month.

The obvious solution is to find and remove the dead animal or animals, then ventilate the site.

But a better solution is prevention. In residences, offices or other sites where odors from dead animals are a concern, use pest-proofing and other IPM tactics to prevent pests from entering the structure

Accumulations of dead insects can also cause an odor problem. For example:

  • Dead insects can rot in an insect light trap.

  • An insecticide-treated wasp nest in a wall void can become quite stinky.

How do you eliminating the odor from a dead animal or rodent?

  • An odor neutralizing product.

  • You can take the odor out of the air by using an air cleaner with an absorbent filter.

    • An absorbent filter such as activated charcoal or silica gel. When room air circulates through the filter, it absorbs and removes particles.

  • You can add something to the air that neutralizes the odor.

    • Odor neutralizers often contain bacteria or enzymes that break down the organic compounds that are causing the odor.

  • Or you can add a new, more desirable odor that temporarily masks or covers up the bad odor

    • Masking deodorants are highly concentrated fragrances that simply cover up the bad smell. They don't neutralize it. Since they have a very strong fragrance, use them carefully to be sure they aren't more offensive than the original odor.

 Finding the Source of the Smell

To locate a dead animal in a wall void, use your nose. Flies in the room may lead you right to the spot or even Fido, your pet dog. You may see maggots migrating away from the carcass. Or, with a larger animal, you might find a damp spot or a stain on the wall or ceiling.

The best solution is to remove the carcass. But if you think you've found the dead animal and it can't be removed, drill a hole through the wall one foot above the floor and pour or inject a disinfectant, odor neutralizer, or masking solution. Be sure to plug the injection holes afterwards. If you can, seal off any cracks that are allowing the odor to escape from the void. Then, use a fan to draw fresh air into the treated area, forcing the old air out. Place the fan to blow air out of the window or vent that it is placed in and to draw in fresh air from another window or vent across the room.

If you can't locate the carcass (or carcasses), you will have to apply a neutralizing or masking agent to the general area.

You also may need to treat for blow flies, dermestid beetles or other pests that infest decaying carcasses.

If you think you may have a wildlife animal or rodent dead or alive on your property or in your home, contact Thomas Pest Services, your local Clifton Park nuisance wildlife removal expert. 


Tags: wildlife removal  |  animal odors  |  dead rodent odor  |  get rid of rodents


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