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How to get rid of dead rat smell inside the house?

dead rat

Source: maxpixel.net; Licence type: CC0 Public Domain

Using poison to get rid of rats is not the best solution for many reasons. Having poison in the house can be extremely dangerous if you have pets or young children, and it may die inside of your home which becomes an issue when the rat starts to decompose and emit a pungent smell.

A dead rat can hide in your walls, on your attic or basement, in the vents, in the closed and even under floorboards. These places can be a challenge to find where the carcass is and get rid of it.

To get rid of dead rat smell, you have to:

  1. Locate and remove the carcass. Depending on where the body is, you may have to hire pest experts with equipment for dead animal removal to get rid of the source of the smell. The sooner you do it, the better.
  2. Wear protection when removing the dead body. Use rubber, vinyl or latex gloves so you don’t touch the rat. Put it in a ziplock bag and seal it immediately. If the smell is too repugnant you may want to use a face mask as well.
  3. Mix bleach and water and use it to treat the area where the body was. Again, use gloves to do so.
  4. Ventilate the area. If there are no windows that you can open to let air in, use a portable ventilator. If the house still smells, open windows to let air in.
  5. Use smell absorbing bags. They are sold in stores and will help take some of the smell away, but you will have to change them regularly until the smell is completely eradicated.
  6. Use scented candles or other air fresheners in your house in the first couple of weeks after dealing with a dead rat or a dead mouse smell.

There’s a saying that when rats get poisoned they go outside and die there. This myth has been debunked for quite some time now but some people still believe it. There are other ways to get rid of rats and mice, without poisoning them.

Where do rats go to die?

Most rat poisons work after a couple of days so there’s plenty of time for it to move about your home. In some cases, it may go outside and die there. But there are more documented cases of rats dying inside of the house than outside of it.

The places it can die vary – it can die in its nest, it can die in the walls or under floorboards, which makes it incredibly hard to find the decaying and smelling corpse and get rid of it.

When you turn your house upside down and there’s no trace of the dead rat but the smell is strong, there’s a chance the carcass is in your walls or under your floorboards. If this is the case, you should hire a professional pest controller to find the right spot and if necessary to take apart the floor or walls with minimal damage and dispose of the decaying animal and to repair the area.

What does a dead rat smell like?

If you’ve ever smelled rotten meat, perhaps a forgotten stake in your fridge, multiply the smell by 50 and you may get close to what a dead rat smells like. It is a rotting, repulsive, sickening smell.

And the worst thing is that you cannot cover it up with anything. Especially, if it is strong in one of the rooms. This is a smell that without a doubt when you sense it for the first time, you will know what is causing it.


black rat inside of the house

Source: pixnio.com Licence type: CC0 Public Domain

How long does it take for a dead rat to start smelling?

Somewhere between three and five days. It also depends on some external conditions such as the humidity and temperature in the place where the rat has died. If it is hotter, the process will be sped up and it will start smelling in no time.

How long does it take for a rat to decompose and stop smelling?

For the rat to decompose, it also depends on a few external conditions like temperature. It also depends on how big the rat is. Normally, it would take up to three weeks to fully decompose, or less if it is hot. Unfortunately, the horrid smell can last up to two more weeks after the body has decomposed.

How to get rid of dead rat smell in vents?

Whether the rodent had died in your heating or cooling vents, you should think twice before attempting to clean them. Bleach might not be the best solution in this case. There are a few natural ways you can clean and deodorise the vents:

  1. Open the vents, find and remove the carcass.
  2. Use a solution of vinegar and water (50:50) to clean the vents. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell, it will wear off when it dries.
  3. Sprinkle coffee grounds or baking soda inside of the vents to absorb the pungent smell. Leave them overnight but change them a few times if necessary.

How to find a dead rat in your walls?

  1. Locate the room where the smell is the strongest.
  2. Trace the walls with your nose and try to narrow down where it is most likely to be.
  3. Drill the wall and make a hole to reach the dead rat.
  4. Use protective gloves to grab the carcass.
  5. Use bleach and water mix to clean the area and ventilate it well before sealing up the hole.
  6. Fix or find someone to fix the hole in your wall.

This is a tricky thing because it requires actually tearing down a part of your wall. If it’s drywall it’s easier to cut a piece and then replace it. Either way, if you are not an experienced handyman or builder, you will need help.

How to dispose of a dead rat in the UK?

You can put the corpse in two bags and tie them tightly and throw them in the dumpster but in some cities, this isn’t allowed. You should call for professional rat exterminators to deal with the issue in the right manner or call your local council and ask them what to do. According to the BPCA, if it is a small infestation you can dispose of the dead rat or rats.

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