Dead Rat Removal Inside a House

I am, quite possibly, the world's best dead rat removal person. Yes yes, you can stop applauding now, thank you, thank you, sit down, you're too kind.

Several times a month, I am called out to a home, or office, commercial building, etc. because the occupants smell a horrible odor. They call me of course, because they suspect a dead animal body. Sometimes I remove dead opossums, raccoons, squirrels, but most of the time, I remove dead rats. Rats live in buildings in high numbers, and they don't usually live a long life span. But more often than that, rats are victims of poisoning, and when rats eat rodent poison set inside a building, guess where they usually die? Inside that building.

Look at the above photograph. It's a dead rat in the attic, a few days old (note some of the fur starting to fall off). You'll see that the rat droppings (poop) around the body is actually blue-green. This is from the blue-green dye in the poison. The poison takes 24-36 hours to kill the rat, so it goes through the system first, and they poop is the same color as the poison. Proof positive that it died due to the poison, yes, and proof positive that it died near where it ate the poison (no, they don't go outside to die, that's a ridiculous myth - why would they do that?)

How to get rid of dead rat odor - well, you find and remove the carcass, that's 99% of it right there. Then you spray the area down with a special cleaner, and open the windows and air out the place.


The secret is right below your nose. I mean, right in your nose. The secret is your nose. You sniff around, like a dog, basically, until you find it. This can be hard for many people, because the whole building stinks. Sure, the smell might be worse in one area of the house, or even one room in particular, but where is that dead rat? Aha, this is where my expertise comes in. I can tell, at first whiff, the species of dead animal, and I can tell, after some sniffing, if it's in the ceiling, wall, duct, etc. It's just a matter of experience, knowledge of rat behavior, knowledge of architecture, and knowledge of "scent behavior", or air flow. I can just plain pin it down. I move back and forth, sniff sniff, up and down, sniff sniff. When you get closer to the source, closer to that rotting gold mine, the smell not only gets stronger, but it changes. Like a fine scotch, there are subtle hints of nutmeg, sherry, oak, maggot, etc. Once I hit ground zero, I bag the prize.


If your nose brings you to the attic, it can be tricky, because air flow in an attic is so good. Attics are well-ventilated, and that can be a problem. The smell is actually worse inside the house, even though the dead rat is in the attic. And it can also be tricky, because very often the little bastard has died in a burrow underneath the insulation. Pay attention to where the odor was worst in the house, and go to that area. Then, it's the good old sniff routine.


If your nose brings you to the bottom of the wall - yes, dead rats tend to be at the bottom, not levitating in the middle of the wall - unless there's a cross stud - then you're going to have to cut a hole in the wall to access the rat. Sometimes, such as in the photo on the right below, you can access a dead rat down a wall from up in the attic, but building architecture rarely allows this. Most of the time I'm breaking out he trusty drywall saw and cutting a hole. I remove the rat, spray the area down, and fix the hole.


If the rat is in a ceiling area but there's no attic to crawl into, it's the same basic deal. Pinpoint the area down to within an inch. To do this, you get on a stepladder and you stick your nose right against the ceiling until you hit the unmistakable stench of the final resting place. Then cut a hole with the drywall saw, remove the rotten bugger, spray with the cleaner, and seal up the hole with brackets or a drywall patch.


You get rid of dead rodent smell by removing the body, of course. You should also scoop up the maggots, so that the house doesn't get a fly hatch in 21 days. Then a number of cleaning disinfectants will work, but I really like a product called Bac-Azap, which breaks down organic matter, such as rotting rat juices. Mmmm!!! After the animal is out, the smell will quickly go away, but you can expedite the process by opening some windows and airing the place out.


Although I wrote this site with rats in mind, such as the Roof Rat and Norway Rat, the same principles apply to other rodents, such as the house mouse. Mice behave very similarly to rats, they're just smaller. So it's often harder to find a dead mouse carcass, because the smell is much weaker than a rat. I say that, and it still absolutely smells putrid. Dead mice stink just the same as rats, and they die in the same sorts of areas, so the same techniques apply.
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