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Is Dead Rat Smell Harmful To Health?

is dead rat smell harmful to health

There are few odours worse on this planet than that of a decaying animal. But multiple dead rats, either actively decomposing or even long-removed from a dwelling can give off a particularly foul stench. Dead rat smell can also be potentially harmful to your health. With this in mind, how exactly is a dead rat smell hazardous to your health?

The smell of a dead rat can be harmful to a person’s health due to the toxic gases and microscopic compounds of the dead animal that are constantly being released into the indoor air. Since most homes are not consistently ventilated, the gases permeate into the respiratory tract and can potentially cause illness.

Getting rid of a dead mouse or rat odours can be difficult. This is even true if the decaying rodents have been removed from the home since the site of death and decay can still contain the smell. But with proper cleaning and disposal of any saturated items, the odour can be eliminated.

Read on to find out more about this problem, including wellness risks associated with rodent decay, and to discover how we at Project Multi Pest can help save you from dealing with this disgusting smell.

How Long Does Dead Mouse Smell Last?

Humans have a strong sense of smell, and this means that odours like decay can linger around long after the source of the smell has been removed.

Rats and mice have a tendency sometimes to die in the most inconvenient of places. When a dead mouse dies behind a wall, for example, more often than not this means that being able to get to the carcass to remove it can be impossible.

Since the decaying matter has a putrid smell (like rotting meat but much worse), this means that homeowners either have to live with the smell until it passes or, possibly tear into the walls to remove the carcass. This is costly and time-consuming, but typically the only way to remove a dead mouse.

If you choose to wait it out, it can take up to 3 weeks to a month for the stinking odour to pass. After this time, the carcass has had enough time to completely dry out, and the rotting process has passed through its most noticeable phase.

A decomposing mouse smells like propane gas or rotting meat. This is a very strong putrid smell of chemicals released by the decaying body.

These chemicals include sulfur dioxide, methane, and some other compounds. If you had spots in your home where multiple dead rodents died and began to rot, the odour can also last for quite a while if the area has not been cleaned completely.

How To Get Rid of Dead Rodent Smells

When deciding how to get rid of dead rat odour, you should first investigate where the smells are coming from.

If you have or have recently had a preexisting rodent infestation, and rodents were frequently dying throughout the home, these smells can be eliminated by thoroughly cleaning the areas with bleach and water solution to kill any bacteria and diseases the rats have left behind.

It is important to use a chemical as strong as bleach since rat and mice diseases can easily be spread to humans. Also, it is important to wear rubber gloves when cleaning rat nesting sites or surfaces where rats decomposed.

Also, the proper opening of any vents in the home will also go a long way in ensuring that the dead rat scent dissipates fully. Try to leave oven vents and any vents in bathrooms running throughout the day; also, consider opening windows and placing a boxed fan against the screen with the front side blowing outside.

If you happen to find a decomposing rat or mouse carcass, you can remove it with rubber gloves, and keep in mind you may also want to wear a PPE mask so you do not breathe in the decomposing body and associated bacteria or something as dangerous as potentially deadly hantavirus.

If you are currently trying to clean out dead rat odour, then you should consider a full house clearance as a solution for items and furniture that were sites of rat infestation.

Having items such as previously infested furniture or stacks of papers, books, or magazines that may be covered in rat waste can go a long way to improving your indoor health and eliminating the lingering smell.

For more information on our house clearance services, please contact us for rubbish removal of any shape or size.

How Long Does it Take for a Rat to Decompose to a Skeleton?

With several dead rat carcasses in the wall, your house could be smelling horrid for two or more weeks. Moreover, the odour won’t go away entirely until the corpse is mummified or decomposed into the skeleton.

It could take anywhere from 3 to 4 months for a rat to fully decompose into a skeleton. All the flesh has to rot from the body first, and the decomposition process is not altogether quick.

In most environments with high humidity, rats could decompose in a faster process, but you can expect the stench to fill the air inside the room and the winder parts of the house until the skeletal stage is reached. Gross right?

Dead Rat Smell Comes and Goes

If you have a large house, or perhaps if rats have died in the attic, you may notice that the stench comes and goes or rises and falls in intensity.

This all relates to the decomposition process which takes place the very second after the animal dies. Gases and enzymes immediately start breaking down the organic matter, and there could be environmental factors that are slowing down the process, such as shifts between dry and moist indoor air.

It could also be that rats have expired somewhere in the house that you cannot easily access, such as behind walls, and the wall or ceiling is blocking most of the stench but trace amounts seep through the structures.

Whatever the reason, the most important thing to remember is to put on protective gear if you find the corpse and properly dispose of it. If you are squeamish or would prefer someone else to dispose of the rat or mouse on your behalf, then contact us at Project MultiPest.

Dead Rat Smell for Months

If you notice the stench for months on end, then you may need us to come and do a thorough inspection of your home to see if you have an infestation.

We will check for hole tunnels along the walls, and use bait to draw rats or mice out of their hiding places to confirm an infestation. Our beautiful rat catching dogs Gracie and Monty will be called in do the rest.

With infestations, somewhere along the way, you will begin to smell either feces or decaying corpses. If the scents come and go over the course of months, you cannot ignore this since it likely means you have an active infestation that has to be eliminated completely to save you from facing this issue.


Can you get sick from a dead rat?

Yes, you can potentially become very ill simply from breathing in the air around a dead rat. Just like with rat droppings, which are also dangerous and equally as nasty, it is important that you get a professional pest control company with the correct protective clothing to come and dispose of the decaying corpse on your behalf.

Decaying rat and mouse matter can almost be thought of as poison since the particles and pathogens released into the air can severely affect your respiratory system.

Although it’s alarming to think this, it is important to remember that every time we smell something, we are in fact tasting the microscopic particles that are emitting from the organism causing the scent. This is why dead rats can potentially make a person sick.

What do you do when a rat dies in your wall?

When rats die in the walls of a house, this will usually mean the only way to remove the scent is to tear into the walls to remove the corpse(s). This should be done with the upmost care and once the decaying animal has been removed, it should be placed into a sealable bag for disposal.

If you do not wish to excavate the structure, you will have to use masking agents near the source to try and cover up the scent as much as you can until the corpse reaches the point where it becomes a skeleton.

This is why it is crucial to address rats or mice as soon as you notice the animals to save you from having to deal with this secondary rodent problem.

Will vinegar get rid of dead animal smell?

Vinegar is not a great substance to eliminate the scent of dead animals. If you want to get rid of this stench, you need to first dispose of any found corpses in a sealable bag. You should consider using bleach or another strong and potent cleaning chemical to thoroughly sanitise the area. That said, you should be mindful of using chemicals around children and pets.

Vinegar may help to cover up some of the scent, but the smell will not fully dissipate until the area and all its associated pathogens have been removed through thorough sanitation, which will require a chemical agent.

Why Contact Project MultiPest?

If you would like advice on rat and mouse-related pest control or removal services, please contact PMP today.

We have some amazing rat-catching dogs who can sniff out rodents and get rid of them without the use of poison. Additionally, we can use strategically place food sources, to lure out any stubborn or deeply hidden rats.

It is important to check for signs of an infestation to ensure you do not have to deal with decaying rats or mouse stench if the animals die in the home. Additionally, our services can help to eliminate the smell of a dead rat or a lingering stench from an eradicated rat infestation.

Call us at 0800 1933351 or contact us by filling out this brief form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Picture of Matthew Blackwell

Matthew Blackwell

Matt is an experienced and professional pest control technician and falconer serving London and Kent.

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About Project Multi Pest
PMP is an experienced pest control company serving the London and Kent areas. It’s owned and operated by Matthew Blackwell. For pest control advice please call or use our website contact form.

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