Pest Issues

How to Get Rid of Dead Rat Smell

Budimir Jevtic /

Rats are nasty rodents that can easily sneak into your house and reproduce, feeding on your food and spreading bacteria. Putting your health and home at risk, however, are not the only troubles these animals can cause. It is possible for one or more of them to die, oftentimes in a wall or another hard-to-reach place in the attic or roof. Not only is the smell of a dead rat hard to endure but is also a persistent one that can remain for months.

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How to be sure you have a dead rodent in the house?

The dead rat smell is the one of flesh rotting away. It is unmistakable and the most obvious sign that you have a problem. It is an odour that you will definitely not forget.

Once the rodent dies, bacteria trigger the process of rotting. As the tissue breaks down, different chemicals are released, which means that the power of the stench will get worse before it gets better.

Having a dead rat in the house poses a serious threat to your health, as it increases the risk of diseases. It could also attract other pests and they can carry rat mites. An unusually large number of flies near vents, walls or other specific areas of the house could be another indicator that there is a dead rat close by.

How to get rid of the dead rat smell

Arm yourself with patience because this task may not be as simple or easy as you may think. Nevertheless, the most important thing is not to put your health at risk throughout the process, so there are no unnecessary complications after.

Find the dead rodent

Following the foul smell is a good strategy, however, it is not always possible to isolate the main source. Therefore, it is good to have some basic knowledge of where these rodents like to settle in a house.

Similar to mice, rats prefer to hide and nest in the parts of the property, which are isolated, provide good shelter and easy access to food. This means that those are also the most probable places where rats could die.

So trust your nose but also check:

  • Your garage
  • Ceiling voids
  • The attic
  • Under-roof spaces
  • Wall cavities (if possible)
  • Underfloor spaces
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Remove the dead rat

It is essential to eliminate the source of the stench, otherwise, it will continue to linger and it could get stronger over time. The dead rat removal process, however, is not always simple and safe to conduct on your own.

That’s partly because rats don’t always die in convenient places. Rodents often crawl into walls, air vents or ceiling voids and die there. This makes things a lot more complicated, as it’s not only hard to get rid of the dead rat’s body, but you have to make holes and repair the drywall afterwards.

The good news is that sometimes the carcass is easily accessible. Nevertheless, remember that you SHOULD NEVER touch the dead rodent with bare hands or approach and handle it unprotected. You can find below the steps for a safe dead rat removal process:

  • Put on rubber gloves and a respirator mask for protection. Wearing a protective suit is a very good idea, otherwise, you will have to throw your clothes out, as they can get contaminated with bacteria and washing them doesn’t always eliminate the latter completely.
  • Use a ziplock bag to collect and safely get rid of the dead animal.
  • Disinfect the whole area with a household bleach and water solution. You can clean more than once to be sure that all bacteria is gone.
  • Collect and throw out the gloves along with clothes, sponges or other tools you’ve used for the cleaning.
  • Wash your hands well or take a whole-body hot shower.
We still advise you to avoid removing a dead rat by yourself. Rats can spread dangerous diseases, including rat-bite fever, which is transmitted through the urine or secretions of the animal’s body and could affect both people and pets. For your safety, it is always preferable to leave this to a certified pest control expert. Keep in mind that most pest control companies deal with active rodent infestation and often, cannot be booked only for dead rat removal.

You can save yourself all of these troubles if you recognise and act with the first signs of a rat infestation. Scratching sounds, brown droppings that resemble rice grains or strange gnaw marks are just to name a few. By eradicating the intruders as early as possible, you will not only lower the chances of having a dead rat somewhere in your property but you will also protect your family’s health.

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Provide good ventilation

Once the source of the bad odour is gone, let some fresh air in. Open as many windows and keep them open for as long as possible to maintain constant air circulation. If you have fans, then definitely turn them on.

Make use of any odour absorbent devices. Air fresheners and deodorisers, as well as candles and essential oil diffusers, can also come in handy. Peppermint oil, for instance, can do more than just help with the dead rat smell removal. It is also a natural rat repellent.

Keep in mind, though, that oils and air fresheners will only mask the smell. Enzyme cleaners are popular for their ability to effectively eliminate urine stains and odour. If you prefer natural methods to get rid of the dead rodent odour, give those a try.

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How long does the smell of a dead rat last?

It could take up to a month for a dead rat to completely decompose, which will put an end of the unpleasant smell. However, humidity, temperature, location are all factors that play a role, too. Also, the bigger the size of the animal, the longer it would take to decompose.

Higher humidity and warmer weather will increase the intensity of the rotting stench. Still, don’t get too worried because as long as the source of the problem is gone and the area is clean, the smell will eventually go away.


  • As soon as you sense the awful smell of rotting, do not wait for it to disappear on its own. Instead, investigate because chances are there is a dead rat somewhere in your home.
  • Remove the dead rodent only if you have all the necessary protective gear and you can easily access the carcass. Dead rats can still transmit diseases to humans and other animals.
  • Fresh air is the best solution for getting rid of the dead rat smell. Other methods can also help you eliminate the unpleasant odour, once the source has been removed.
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Glenda Mchugh
Glenda Mchugh
2 years ago

Do u have a service for the south coast nsw

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