Is dead rat smell harmful to health?

anjalidFebruary 20, 2007

I've read many of the posts here talking about dead rat smell. We have a similar problem in one of our closets.... for almost a month now, we've emptied the closet and checked the attic, no body found... so we think it's in the walls....not sure if we want to tear down our walls.

I've tried everything and the smell won't go. I am going to try one of those odor bombs.

But can it also be harmful to health? Should I disinfect the closet, any suggestions on products to use?

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The smell in the wall - IF it is from a dead rodent - will go away in a few weeks.

Disinfecting the closet??? From what? I thought the 'body' (if that is what the smell is from) was in the walls...

Are you sure it isn't mold or mildew? THAT needs to be disinfected...

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 8:04PM
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I would think that the smell of rotten meat (which is what it would be if it's a rodent) is a LOT less harmful to your health than any chemicals you might spray into the air to combat the smell. After all, dead animals are natural, deodorants are not :)

You might have some issues with maggots and flies if the body is accessible to flies. While maggots will make quick work of a decaying body, it's just nasty :)

Do move any clothes and items that tend to absorb and hold on to odors of any sort.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 11:42AM
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I think it would be more harmful to your psychological health - lol.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 7:48PM
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put a couple open boxes of baking soda in there, don't scatter it just open the boxes and set them down. they will absorb most of the odor.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 10:45AM
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personally, i would rip wall down. the dead rat would freak me out more so then the smell.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:45PM
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I wouldn't think a decomposing rodent's smell would linger that long.

In one of our previous homes we had a rotten smell in a closet. Turns out it was sewer gas coming from the nearby bathroom. Might this be your problem?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 8:41AM
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I have no idea where the myth came about that baking soda absorbs doesn't.
The body will dry up and not smell in a few weeks. In my experience a mouse takes 2 to 3 weeks to dry up....never had a rat!
If it's been longer than 3 weeks I would suspect something else...either sewer gas or a larger animal.
But the odor is not harmful to your health.
The one thing that may help is putting a dish of charcoal and or kitty litter in the closet.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 12:12AM
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we have what we suspect to be a dead mouse in one of our heat ducts. we are pretty sure it is a mouse because lately we have had a bit of a problem with them, so we out some posion in the basement. we know that seem to like the ductwork, as we have found droppings next to a few vents.

we dont have any way to get into the duct without tearing it apart, so removing it isnt really an option.

is there anything we could use to neutralize the smell?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 8:40AM
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"is there anything we could use to neutralize the smell?"

No - as stated above, it will go away in a few weeks.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 7:03PM
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Like western_pa_luann stated. You cannot neutralize the smell. It will go away in a couple of weeks. If you live in the country you kind of get used to it in the fall or winter.
What you have to do is get in the attic and try to find where they got in the wall at and close off that source. Rats and mice will follow urine trails of other rats and mice. So if it happens once you have very good chances that it will happen again. one place that is a bad area for it to happen is the soffit area of a kitchen (if you have soffits above the cupboards) The way they are designed a mouse can get in them, walk along to the end and drop into a wall cavity. Once in the wall, they cannot get out. A mouse can go through a hole the size of a dime, so you really have to look around the perimeter of a house to see where they are getting in. And yes....mice do get into attics very easily.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 8:23AM
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We used to put out poison for mice where I used to work. Don't do that. They die in the walls and you have the odor to contend with until they fully decompose. Finally switched to snap traps and assigned one of the janitorial crew to check and change them. But, when we had the odor problem we burned scented candles until the odor went away. Doesn't eliminate the odor but did make it bearable. Just make sure you snuff out the candle before going to bed at night. You could probably use those plugins but I've never had one I could stomach and I'm not so sure plugging an oil into an electrical outlet is any safer than a candle.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 4:09PM
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Be careful using anything to eliminate or cover the odor if you have pets or people w/asthma, etc in the house. The fumes can be deadly or at best irritating. If you must use something look for products that are safe around pets and use with caution anyway. If your weather permits at all, open windows as much as you can, to get fresh air.

We used to live in a house that frequently got squirrels in the attic. They can rip open holes thru wood, metal, screen, etc, if they want to bad enough. When they die in your walls it can stink to high heaven for weeks. If it's bad enough, the odor can cling to clothing, etc. Health food stores often sell products based on enzymes to kill odors on furniture, carpet etc that helps.

One incident like this should have to looking hard for the ways animals got in, and preventing them from getting in anymore. You might have to look in some normally inaccessible places like your roof, around chimneys and vents, etc. One of the places squirrels kept getting in for us, was an eaves vent that was not really visible from the ground due to the meeting of some roof angles. The rodents just strolled right up to the vent, tore off the cover, and invited themselves in. Trees and fences, sheds, cars, etc, can make it easy for them to get to the roof.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 3:25PM
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what is a bowl of charcoal or kitty litter going to do?? I have this smell in my office right now... the only thing I have found so far is scented candles (glade scented candles)BUT how can we stop them from coming back?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 1:10AM
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"what is a bowl of charcoal or kitty litter going to do?? "

They absorb odors.
Baking soda works also.

The 'germ theory' of disease eclipsed the other theories.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 9:19AM
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The smell of the dead rat has indeed infected my "Psychological Health" to the comment way above, everyone else has been able to wash it out there nostrils but I can still smell it, it's very strong in the kitchen and we thought it was behind the laundry so we moved the machines but no rat, then we moved the stove and it was not there either. The rat is in the wall and we cant get it out because it costs LOTS of money especially with the electrical currents. Please please, tell me how to get rid of this smell, because it's spreading through the house and I cannot bare it much longer. It's sickening.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 4:29PM
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what if the poison given to the rat contains a pathogen? This can be present in the air on droplets etc. Does this mean the air that is tainted by a dead rat is toxic to humans?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 4:42PM
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Um . . . no. A pathogen is a bacteria, virus or fungus. A poison would not contain a pathogen; it would contain a poison. Live rats carry pathogens which are potentially harmful to humans. The smell of a dead rat, while certainly unpleasant, is not toxic and will go away as the rat decomposes and dries up (fortunately a fairly quick process). Unfortunately, decomposition produces chemicals that the human nose can smell at very low concentrations, lower than can be detected by all but the most sensitive instruments. If you absolutely must have the smell gone immediately, the rat carcass must be removed.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 7:39PM
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a rat died under sealed floorboard a few days after my ex died the smell is horrible now the smell is around our bed at nights from the lower ground floor is she haunting us after 3 weeks she was a vindictive person. 21/04/2011

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 4:06AM
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You need to check along the base of all exterior walls for points of entry...and use concrete or something to patch it....anything else they can chew must cut off their access or you will never solve your issue then cut off their food...and use sticky traps or the traps that kill them and you won't have to deal with the smells just the

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 1:25AM
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We have the same-nightmare. A colleague told me about RatZappers. They electrocute, no poison! I ordered 2 and dropping off today. Ultra and the Classic. She caught 3 and there was no smell. They crawl in, it kills them instantly so humane, and you then just dump the body in a bad.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 2:06PM
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We have had the most awful smell in our house for three and a half months - it's just about past and now we have literally 100s of bluebottles flying around. It's been just awful. The council came in and confirmed we had rats - norwegian rats (they can tell from their droppings).They put lots of bait down - they died - in our dining room, kitchen and utility room walls. The smell can only be described as rotten veg that has been left out in the heat for a days. It's been so awful that people can't come in our house as they would literally vomit. Our little ones (aged one and three) have been sick becuase of the smell. Our clothes in our cupboards even smell.

The only thing that has masked the smell a tiny bit was lavender oil (which is also a smell that I personally hate, but one can't be fussy now!).

We are now going to have to spend a lot of money to get someone to search the whole of our house (a large victorian house so very old and probably full of holes in the celler, attic walls you name it!).

It has been devasting and to now have all the flys is just unbearable. If the doors and windows are closed in the space of a few hours there will be a few hundred flies at each window.

So my advice to anyone (and I'm sure this isn't what the professinals would advise..but) DON'T put bait down as they will run and hide and die - likely in your house and you may experience what we have had to go through. Personally.. I'd use lots of traps and try and find out where they are coming from.

Sorry to anyone that has gone through this or is going through it - it's awful.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:54AM
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Yes, Texasredhead, I KNOW this is an old post so please don't ask. Even old ones can be helpful as vermin have been dying in walls since we all moved out of log cabins.

My hint is not timely for those suffering with the smell but:

We live next to an open field and were plagued for years with field mice.....never could find where they came in at. We couldn't poison as we have inside dogs and snap traps just scare the bee-jeezus out of me, 'specially when I can hear the poor mouse flopping around in death throes.

My Dad suggested those plug in thingies that supposedly run through the wiring in your house (?). He swears by them. What the heck, if they don't work, we're only out 30 bucks for two of them - one upstairs and one in the basement.

We haven't had a mouse one for several years since we plugged them in. We got two more for our cabin and never found another chipmunk nest in our bed. Mice were a problem up there too - can't poison them because of other critters that eat them and you can't snap trap them because we weren't always there. That'd be a nice little stench to invite a bear break in. Oh! Our neighbors got a couple for their cabin too! No more mouse/chipmunk problems for them either. Three homes can't be wrong.

We ordered ours from Amazon.

BTW, it doesn't bother our dogs - Chihuahuas.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 1:54PM
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I live in an old house that's hard to keep clear of critters, much less mustiness. One solution is to run an aroma diffuser with peppermint - in particular, one of the ones sold by diffuserworld (see link). I have a few different kinds. If you must have it totally quiet, try the Aroma Sonic with some peppermint or other oil added to the (distilled!) water. But if you really want to blast the place, try the Aroma Ace (does not use water). (These all will need an electrical outlet.) You can adjust: time on, time at-rest/off, and output amount.

Hmm... just looked, and I see they have a new one I haven't tried yet!

Vitacost sells 4-oz. bottles of peppermint (and other) oils, for one place. I've used a few different brands. I also got some atomizers (by Aura Cacia) and I keep peppermint oil, etc., in those and spray corners of the house now and then.

It has to be oil -- extract won't do it!

Rodents don't like peppermint, either. Though, it needs to be sprayed fresh every so often. Just leaving a dab of it here and there for a long time isn't enough.

....And keep track of sweet potaters... once, I left a bag of sweet potatoes somewhere in the house, and forgot about it. Stuff got set on top of it. After a few weeks... what a horrible smell! I was certain that a rat had died in the wall. I was ready to tear down the house. Then, I finally found the sweet potatoes. Or, what was left of them!

Here is a link that might be useful: diffuserworld

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 4:05PM
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Hey there,I am having similar issues with the dead rodent in the wall. In the guest bathroom I kept hearing strange noises in the walls before I went on vacation. I'd be in the tub carrying on, when a rustling,furry,scratching startling noise would catch my attention. Scared me half to death to be honest. It sounded like it was stuck sort of shaking around trying to get out and sounded much bigger than a rat, maybe even an adult possum?(Possum problems where I live)
Anyway I left for about a week and came home to a rank disgusting smell(we know the drill)
We literally sat around debating to go rent a hotel room..
But who has money for that these days? We tried the vinegar and sat out baking soda with vanilla ex on cotton balls.
It sort of helped but only a little while before the rank comes back stronger. I fear the animal is larger and I'd like to knw if its say a possum, how long will it take to dry up? We can't even eat in our kitchen and spending $ on going out to eat is getting expensive, not to mention running to mcdonalds to eat isn't healthy either. If this is going to be severals weeks to months, we need to get the animal out! We can't live with the smell even if it is natural..I looked at listed above-and a diffuser is like $60.00 or more, I can't afford that! And say I could afford it, a lot of oil I'd have to go through? I'm considering cutting into the wall where I heard the scratching loudest. Its hard to guess about where it is though. I can't just cut into our walls hoping I find this dead rodent. Any help?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 8:42AM
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Listen.. All of a sudden it stunk in my garage. My wife said we must have a natural gas leak. I came home and it did kinda smell like propain or mercaptain. But I doubted it was that. I took our empty bottles to the depot but doubted they were the problem. It was odd that the stink just showed up all of a sudden one day. By night fall. I could smell it upstairs. It was nasty. I went into the garage again and suddenly it smelled like death. I started moving tool boxes,my washer,dryer and then the deepfreeze. Omg. It was coming from my deepfreeze. I got down on my knees and sniffed the side panel. It was coming from inside. Then, at that moment, a fly crawled out and flew away. It was then I knew there was a dead rodent in there. A hole in the back of the deepfreeze where the power cord comes out was big enough for a rodent. We don't have a rodent problem. At least we didn't. I think it was an isolated incident. One must of come in when my garage door was open? I unscrewed the panel and found a dead rat. It got electrocuted and died. It couldn't have been there long cause it didn't have rigamortis. But the smell won't go away. Will that take weeks too? How long do you think it was there? Does anyone know approximately?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 1:29AM
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I put steel wool in my duct work 2 yrs ago because I found a mouse in my house..I would like to know if particles of steel wool can come out into the air even if you we not touching it or anything?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 2:22AM
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