If you live in an old house, then chances are you’re going to have a pest problem. The siding on old houses certainly isn’t up to par with newer designs and cracks in the siding and holes along the baseboard can allow rodents to get into the house itself. Perhaps you’ve heard some scraping noises in the walls or in the attic, but haven’t thought much of it. But then one morning you wake up to a nauseating smell in the house.
This smell is most likely from the decaying body of a dead mouse. However, if you own a gas stove or use natural gas/propane for your heating needs, then it is advisable that you call your gas company. Although natural gas is odorless, it is infused with an additive that smells like a cross between rotting eggs and rotting flesh. That way if you have a gas leak, you’ll be able to detect it before it potentially threatens your home or your family. Thus, it is a good idea to call your gas company and have them verify that in fact you have something dead in your house and not a gas leak. Paying fifty bucks for an in-home visit from the gasman is better than having your house explode if you neglect a gas leak.
So, if your gas company rules out a gas leak, or if you use electric, oil, or wood heat for your house, then chances are that you have a dead mouse somewhere. But what can you do about a dead mouse in your house? Unfortunately there isn’t much you CAN do. Chances are that the mouse died trying to climb out of an area with smooth edges (eg: a heating vent) or got stuck in a tight area in the walls, foundation, or attic. In this case, you need to use your nose to sniff out the strongest smell in the house which will lead you to where the dead mouse is. If there is any way you can access the location, like taking off a heating grate or opening a trapdoor to the attic, then you might have a chance at removing the mouse. However, if the strongest smell is coming from a wall or other inaccessible location, there is nothing you can do except cut a hole in that particular place. At this point you need to ask yourself if dealing with the smell of a dead mouse outweighs the damage done to your house in the process.
There are companies that deal with rodent problems, but they generally will only help you with controlling live mice. If they do offer removal services, then chances are that you will be incurring the same damage to your house but just with a higher fee than if you did it yourself. So what’s the best course of action to take when you have a dead mouse that’s out of your reach?
The only thing you can do is to let the dead mouse dry out. This sounds disgusting, but it is necessary. After a couple of weeks, the decomposition of the mouse’s body will begin to slow down and the carcass with dry out (and with it the odor). You can help accelerate this process by removing as much excess moisture from your house as possible. If you have a dehumidifier, be sure to run it regularly. Dead things rot more in hot, wet conditions than in cool, dry ones and also give off a more pungent smell. Dealing with the smell is another matter. There are a number of odor-reducing products on the market, but in this case you want to get some that either release vapor into the air to cover up the smell or absorb odors with carbon or charcoal. Getting a spray bottle of odor reducer is not going to help when you can’t access the body of the dead mouse. Place odor reducers in areas where the smell is the worst and just wait it out.
What do you do if you can actually reach the dead mouse? The foremost thing to remember is sanitation. A dead mouse could be host to other vermin like flies, and in rare instances diseases like hanta virus. In any case, you want to be careful about how you handle it. Wear disposable latex gloves and have a bottle of disinfectant handy. Spray the mouse carcass and then place it in a sealed ziplock bag. Discard this bag immediately. Next, be sure to disinfect the area thoroughly with disinfectant spray. You can make your own disinfectant by mixing one part liquid bleach with about four parts water. Just make sure that the area is disinfected and cleaned up.
If you have a dead mouse in your house, then you might have other mice living somewhere out of sight. At this point, you might want to invest in some traps to reduce the chances for another two weeks of horrid smell in your house.