There’s nothing worse than coming home to a foul odor and finding out it wasn’t the dog’s flatulence causing it. Narrowing down the possibilities, you remember seeing droppings and come to the terrifying conclusion that you’re dealing with a dead mouse or rat.
Obviously, finding the corpse and getting rid of it is the best solution. But what happens if the mouse died in the wall or under the floor?
Here’s how to get rid of a dead mouse smell if you can’t get to the rodent or found it too late.
Related: How to Get Rid of a Mouse
That Smell: The Cold, Dead Facts
Due to the fact that rodents prefer hiding, it can be tough to identify the source of the bad smell and eliminate it. Here are a few things you’ll need to know in your efforts to eliminate (or wait out) the foul scent of death.
How to Find a Dead Mouse
It can be harrowing to search for a mouse or rat corpse, and there’s no easier way than to suck it up and use your nose. Try to identify the room where the dead mouse scent is strongest.
From there, it becomes a game of hide-and-seek, checking every crevasse you can access and shifting furniture. This adventure can be even worse when the rodent died somewhere in your car, in an air duct, or another small, cramped space.
The ideal solution here is to find the corpse and dispose of it with gloves and a bottle of disinfectant in your arsenal. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a dead mouse in the wall or floor, which means you’ll just have to tough out the rancid smell of the decomposition process or hire an exterminator.
What Does a Dead Mouse Smell Like?
Not even our cats have dared put their noses close enough to a mouse corpse to find out. However, according to those braver than us, the foul odor can resemble a sweeter version of skunk spray.
Sulfur dioxide is generally the first scent you’ll pick up, with methane following close behind. These two foul smells will last throughout the rotting process.
Other noxious gasses that smell like rotting food will join the mix as the decomposition speeds up. Some have said that at these points, the dead body may smell like more rotten cabbage or spoiled eggs.
How Long Does it Take for a Dead Mouse to START Smelling?
You might begin to notice a dead rodent smell as soon as 12 hours after death, but it can take two to three days before it becomes strong enough that even the least sensitive nose will notice.
This is because the rodent will begin to decompose soon after death, but much of the bad odor remains trapped in the body cavity until the process fully takes hold.
See Also: What is Musophobia?
How Long Does it Take for a Dead Mouse to STOP Smelling?
The moment a mouse dies, their olfactory nerves cease to function and they no longer smell. But seriously, though, the length of time depends upon a number of factors.
An arid environment will help to mummify the corpse, making the smell diminish faster. Conversely, a moist environment will allow rot to set in, as well as help encourage maggots and other pests that may expose more of the rotting meat to air.
The worst of the smell usually only lasts a few days, but the smell will take anywhere from a week (at best) to eight weeks to actually go away depending on the conditions and size and type of mouse.
The problem is if you use poison or unusual method like Coke where the mouse or rat ingests the “food” and later dies in a hidden or hard to discover area.
You may notice a strong dead rodent smell but even after spending hours trying to locate it, you’re unsuccessful. In these cases, all you can do is wait for the smell to naturally dissipate.
A Game of Cat and Mouse (Author’s Note)
There are times you may have a rodent infestation and never realize it. We live close to the woods, and our two ESAs (emotional support animals) catch mice that find their way inside. Since we have an old house, this happens at least once per year, usually in the autumn.
The good news is that we usually discover the mouse when the cats have it cornered. We allow them to toy with it for a while. Then, when it’s sufficiently terrified, we capture and release,. As cruel as this sounds, the mouse is usually unharmed (physically), but the trauma will discourage it from sneaking into someone else’s home.
The cats have gotten so efficient at this, they’ll often grab the mouse and carry it somewhere inescapable, such as the bathtub. This makes it easier to keep the mouse cornered and alive until we can collect it.
Unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen. If the mouse is only facing one cat and tries to flee, this will generally result in its death. Thankfully, Diego is an efficient hunter and will kill the mouse fast and cleanly. We’ll then discover him patiently guarding the corpse. I found this dead carcass late at night on my way to grab a drink.
But this brings up an important truth: If you have cats, they can mortally would a mouse or rat. Unfortunately, if it escapes, the pest will find the nearest hiding place and usually dies there.
Always praise your cats for successful pest hunting (but teach them not to go after small pets). It’ll encourage them to tighten up their game. The result will be fewer corpses in wall cavities and a higher chance of a merciful capture and release.
Getting Rid of a Dead Mouse Odor
Sometimes you just can’t find the corpse or the horrible stench lingers. Thankfully, there are several methods you can use to make the situation more bearable or counteract the stench completely.
It’s important to pay attention to your health when dealing with an inaccessible decomposed body. That smell of decay is largely caused by noxious gasses escaping the body cavity. These gasses contain harmful bacteria that can make your family sick.
Therefore, if you begin feeling ill, don’t just assume it’s that awful scent. Get yourself checked out immediately if you start showing any significant symptoms
In the House
You can choose to use a dead mouse odor eliminator (such as Rat Sorb Odor Eliminator) or mix up something in the kitchen, depending on the location of the corpse. One of the easiest ways is to simply open the windows and turn on some fans when the corpse was found within the room.
You can also use essential oils, incense, or scented candles to cover some of the odor while it dissipates. A good thorough cleaning will also speed up the process. You can use commercial products, but we find OxyClean or a few cups of vinegar in really hot water works well for all sorts of odors (even cat urine!).
For rodents that have died in the vents, a wall void, or under the floorboards, such methods will have limited success. Instead, you might wish to resort to a good odor-eating bag such as the one made by Earth Care, or an odor eliminating spray, such as R86. Cups with vinegar placed strategically can also combat the odor.
As a last resort, you can attempt to mask the scent of decay using one of your favorite air freshener scents.
In the Car
Mice often take shelter in a recently used car to escape cold weather or an unused car to escape heat. Unfortunately, this can also lead to their untimely demise. In summer, decomposition will set in quickly, filling the car with that terrible smell.
Find a shady spot and open all the windows, as well as the hood and trunk. Leaving the car exposed to sunlight will bake in the smell and take that much longer to eliminate.
Once you’ve gotten the worst out, clean the exterior, engine, and undercarriage thoroughly with a pressure washer. Follow this up with a good interior cleaning using upholstery shampoo and your favorite cleaners.
You should allow the car to air out again after the washing is complete. This not only helps dry out the interior, but it can remove any lingering smell. You’ll also want to avoid using the AC or car heater for a few days if the mouse died near the engine.
In the Garage
Your garage is both the easiest and most difficult place to eliminate a dead rodent smell from. It’s difficult because there’s a lot of clutter and often limited ventilation.
At the same time, it’s easy because you can close it off from your house. Then, simply leave the exterior door open for ventilation. Adding some fans will help, as will scrubbing the location of the corpse with bleach or a good cleaner.
Related: How to Get Rid of Mothball Smell
When in Doubt
Don’t sit back if you suspect you have more than one rodent or have family members with respiratory or immune system issues. In these cases, it might be prudent to call in a pest control professional. Not only can pest control experts eliminate any living rodents, they can also extract them from your walls and floor with minimal damage.
Remember, a rotting corpse will attract other pests. This can quickly lead to an infestation of insects or scavengers. Always weigh the cost of removal over the risk of leaving that mouse to rot before choosing your course of action in these cases.