What Do You Do If a Rodent Dies in Your Wall?


One of the most common pests that you will come across in homes is rodents – not only are they destructive and noisy, but they can also cause you a lot of misery if they end up dying within the walls of your home. Read on to find out how you can deal with the latter predicament in case you have to deal with it.

What do you do if a rodent dies in your wall?

  1. Pinpoint exactly where the smell is coming from.
  2. Ensure that you follow the proper safety precautions before handling the dead rodent by putting on gloves on your hands and wearing a mask on your face.
  3. Once you get rid of the rodent’s carcass, disinfect the area where you found it by spraying an enzymatic cleaner or special-purpose sprays to eliminate hazardous bacteria.
  4. Follow this up with a deodorizer to neutralize the smell. You will also want to increase the air circulation in the room to reduce the potency of the smell.

If a rodent dies in your wall, it is highly likely that you will be dealing with a pungent smell for a couple of days at the very least. The most suitable way to deal with this is to find the offending critter and get rid of it. 

Locating where the rodent died

A rodent typically dies where its nest is located or close to it. Following this logic, look for indications of live rodent presence to locate the dead ones as well. Common indicators include footprints and droppings. If you are unable to detect evidence of rodent activity, some of the common signs of dead rodents to look out for include:

  • Foul smell – As the body of a dead rodent starts to decompose, it releases a foul odor. The intensity, duration, and severity of the foul smell will depend on the body size of the rodent. When an animal dies in an indoor setting, the smell emitted by its decomposing body tends to become more pungent with increasing temperature. Picking up on the smell when it is at its strongest will increase your chances of finding the dead rodent.
  • Maggots – As the body of the dead rodent decomposes, maggots will begin to appear to feed on the rotting flesh.
  • Flies – As maggots mature into flies, you might start to notice the presence of houseflies in your home, indicating the presence of a dead animal close by.
  • Discoloration of the wall – You might also notice that the wall in which a rodent has died is discolored.  This is because the body of a dead animal rends to release fluid which could soak up the wall and leave a nasty stain that may prove to be hard to remove.

Finding dead rodents in the wall

Once you confirm that a dead rodent is indeed in your wall, you may have to cut a hole through it to make it easier for you to access that specific area of the wall cavity. To do this, you will need an electronic borescope to drill a coin-sized hole into the drywall where you suspect the smell is coming from. For increased effectiveness, ensure that the hole is a few inches off the ground. If your search using the borescope does not yield any dead rodents, consider making another hole in the next cavity. If you come across the rodent, cut out an appropriately sized hole in your drywall to allow for easy removal of the carcass.

Ensure you take the necessary hygiene precautions

When you find the dead rodent, ensure that you take safety precautions to reduce the risk of becoming. This is of utmost importance because different types of rodents can transmit a variety of diseases, whether it is directly or indirectly. Here are some guidelines on how to handle a dead rodent when taking it out of your wall.

You will need the following items:

  • A face mask
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • A trash bag
  • A plastic bag

After putting on your face mask and protective gear, collect the rodent and place it into the plastic bag, ensuring that you seal it afterward. The next step is to place the plastic bag into a trash bag and tying the trash bag as tightly as possible. You might want to keep some disinfectant and tissues handy in case blood or fluids from the rodent come in contact with your exposed skin. After getting rid of the carcass, wash the clothes

Getting rid of the carcass

While you may be able to throw the rodent carcass into your outdoor garbage can, you may want to consult your area’s regulations regarding the disposal of dead animals as some areas have very stringent rules regarding this.

Getting rid of the residual smell

Even after getting rid of the dead rodent, you will notice that there is an unpleasant odor that still lingers. The only way to eliminate the offensive smell is to deep clean the affected area. Here are some tips on how to go about the cleaning process:

  • Wear protective gloves before getting started.
  • Prepare a solution made up of 10% bleach and 90% water. Alternatively, you can use an enzymatic cleaner. Spray the solution/enzymatic cleaner on the area and allow it to sit for around half an hour.  This will allow the disinfectant to adequately break down the biological material.
  • Using a paper towel or piece of cloth, wipe down the affected area to get rid of fur, body fluids, prints, marks, and droppings.
  • Place the used paper towels/cloths in a garbage bag, remembering to seal it tightly afterward.
  • Repeat steps 2-4.
  • Dispose of the protective gloves and work clothes you use appropriately, then wash your hands thoroughly and take a shower.

Ensure there is air circulation in the room

To reduce the intensity of the smell, you will want to increase the flow of air in the room. You can do this by cracking a window open and setting a reversible fan near it to ensure that it pushes out the stale air in the room.

Place another fan in the window located on the opposite side of the room so that it brings in fresh air. This strategy can help circulate air through the room and consequently make the smell less overpowering.  An alternative to this is to purchase an air filtration system. This system works by trapping the odor until it eventually fades completely.

Deodorizing and sealing holes and cracks

After getting rid of the dead rodent and cleaning the wall cavity thoroughly, opt to spray a deodorizer or odor neutralizer to ensure that area has no odor. To prevent the risk of an infestation reoccurring, it is important to seal off the holes you created to get rid of the dead rodent, as well as any small holes and cracks that pests could use as entryways. Cover small cracks with caulk and stuff larger ones with stainless steel wool before sealing them with caulk.

Calling a professional to deal with the problem

If you find the smell to be too overwhelming or simply don’t want to handle a dead rodent, consider seeking the service of a professional to do it for you. Most pest companies will typically send in an expert that specializes in the removal of animal carcasses to get rid of the dead rodent.

Rodents you may likely find dead in your wall

Rodents that are likely to end up dying in your wall and causing a stink include:

  • Rats and mice
  • Raccoons
  • Squirrels
  • Skunks
  • Opossums

How to avoid dealing with dead rodents

Stopping rodents from gaining access to your walls, in general, is the best way to keep them from dying and stinking up your home in the first place. In addition to sealing off entry points, you can make your home less attractive to rodents by getting rid of food sources and potential nesting areas.

While using poison is effective at killing rodents, this elimination technique is one of the leading causes of rodents dying in your home. Contrary to popular belief, poison does not instantly kill the rodent when ingested.

Instead, when a rodent ingests poison, it will likely try to find a safe spot to recover, in this case, your wall, before eventually dying and consequently resulting in an unpleasant odor. A more suitable elimination technique involves the use of traps.  Traps allow for more control over where the rodent will end up, plus removal will be easier.

Final thoughts

Handling a dead rodent is hardly anyone’s idea of a good time, but it is even harder if you have to deal with one that is stuck in your wall. You can either opt to deal with this problem yourself or calling a professional to do the job for you. Either way, it is important to ensure that the dead rodent is removed from the wall

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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