Dealing with a dead animal in wall (& its decomposing odors)

woman holding dead mouse found in home

Sometimes you will find a dead animal along the roadside, sometimes in your yard or on your property. What happens if that dead animal is in your wall? All animals die and sometimes a wild animal may have found its way into your home before it died and it could end up in your attic, or worse than that- in your wall.

There are signs you may have this problem:

  • You have unexplained swarms of flies.
  • There may be an unexplained stain that appears on your wall.
  • There is a terrible odor in your home.

One sure fact about these signs is that if it is a dead animal in your wall; you are facing serious health risks from it being there. According to Critter Control, humans who come in close contact with dead animals may contract diseases or parasites growing from the carcass. If left the carcass can also infect soil or water depending on where it died. A carcass left can also become a danger to pets as they can contract parasites or diseases. A carcass becomes a breeding ground for fly larvae that will hatch, as well as beetles and worms which can become quite a nuisance in your home.

You need to locate where the animal died

Once the animal dies, its body will start to decompose. This is when you will start noticing the odor. This odor comes from organisms breaking the tissue down. The smell is what will help you find this animal and remove it.

In an indoor setting you will notice a dead animal by the strength of the odor getting stronger and then fading a bit. Noticing when the smell is the strongest will help you determine where in the house to find it. For example, if you notice the odor more when it’s the hottest outside, it is most likely in your basement.

Also knowing animal habits will help you locate where it died. A lot of animals seek water when they get sick, and some look for heat to resemble what they would have found in their nests. Think about where an animal would have access to locations like this and check them out for more signs. Dead mice and rats are going to be the hardest to find because of their size.

Finding dead rats and mice in your walls

The smell will again be your first sign that a mouse or rat has died in your walls. Most people will just think their whole house smells, but go to the room where you notice the odor is the strongest. Mice and rats prefer dark places so this can be your starting point. Look behind furniture, under it or in closets that are normally dark. If that doesn’t turn up a carcass, start locating where in the room the smell is strongest. It may have died in your wall. If this is the case, you may have no other choice than to cut a hole to allow access to that part of the wall cavity.

Video explaining how to get rid of dead rats in your wall

Rats will look for areas that are both warm and dark, so you should start by looking for areas in your home that are not used often. Check around the furnace or boiler or are there areas in your kitchen they could hide in? If you’re having trouble finding where it is, look for how it got into your home in the first place. Look for gnaw marks around the inside and outside of your home to see how it gained entry. You may then be actually able to follow a trail to find where it died.

Use proper hygiene precautions

When you have located the dead animal, make sure you use proper hygiene. Start by wearing gloves before handling it. Wear a facial mask if you are going to move it. Keep alcohol and some tissues on hand just in case any fluids or blood fall on your exposed skin, and wipe it away immediately. Most wild animals carry parasites and once their host is dead, they will begin looking for a new home and you don’t want that to be you. Shower immediately after you have finished the task of removing the carcass. Washing the clothes you’ve worn when you removed the carcass will also reduce the risk of the parasites spreading.

Dispose of Carcass properly

Depending on which animal died in your wall there may be state regulations on how you can dispose of the carcass. Check with the National Agricultural Library to see how you should deal with a dead animal carcass to make sure you, your family and your pets are not put at risk.

If you do not have any specific regulations to follow; you should double bag the carcass in a plastic bag and place in the garbage. If it is a larger animal you may have to bury it.

Neutralize the odor

Sometimes, even after removing an animal carcass from your wall, you’ll still smell the dead animal. Normally after a few days this stench will dissipate but you can try neutralizing the odor with certain sprays too.

Video explaining how to get rid of mice and rats in your ceilings or walls

Some animals you might find dead walls or attic


Raccoons are very common pests in rural areas, suburbs, and even urban cities. They can cause all kinds of mischief including living in your home or attic, climbing into your chimney, stealing your garbage, and more. One of the biggest dangers of having them in your attic is if they die up there. The size of a raccoon can be quite large; therefore the smell is going to be quite strong. Burial of the dead raccoon may be the best solution for disposal of this animal.


There are a lot of squirrels in most neighborhoods and they can cause a homeowner a lot of problems; living in the house and attic, crawling down the chimney, chewing on woodwork and furniture, causing electrical damage and more. Look for signs of their entry and try to find where they died by following signs of their being in your home. Dispose of properly once you have located the carcass.

Video showing how to get a dead squirrel carcass out of wall cavity (locate it from the attic, then remove a small portion of sheetrock).


We all know the black and white critter that has quite an odor for its defense. This same little critter will leave an awful odor if it dies in or under your house. They like to live under decks and sheds and your home if they can find a way under it. Be sure to follow proper disposal methods once you have located the carcass.


Opossums like to scavenge in urban areas and often come into conflict with people when they try to move into homes. They have been found in homes and especially like attics. They also like to live under decks, sheds or your home if they can get under it.

There are other wild animals that could find their way into a home, causing problems when they die in your attic, basement or in the walls. For a more complete list and other tips, check out the Wildlife Education and Directory.

Wild animals are beautiful and amazing to watch when they are in their own environment. Once they cross the line and invade our homes it becomes less amazing to see them. When they die in our home it becomes a real problem. Hopefully, these tips help you to find and remove any of those problems.

Frequently Asked Questions about dead animals in your walls

“Are dead rodents in the walls a big deal? Should I be concerned with this or just let them rot?”

It is recommended to have any dead rodents trapped in your walls or attic removed because the large majority of them can not only cause diseases like the hantavirus, but they can also begin to rot they can release harmful dust, and gasses that can cause some people’s allergies to act up. Not to mention, the smell can become very foul. The other issue is that if there is one dead rat in your wall there is a good chance you may have more rats in your walls or roof.

Categorized as Wall Pests

By David Jackson

I enjoy learning about new pest control strategies and sharing what I learn at I aim to create a reliable resource for people dealing with all sorts of pest issues.


  1. Mine is a concrete walled house. The smell is coming from the wall , but on the wall is a wooden board which is completely attached to the wall – it isn’t moveable. We have tried keeping baking soda near it, hoping that the insect or anything would decompose within it, but the smell has persisted. Kindly suggest what else can be done.

    1. Unfortunately, the only thing I know of is to somehow get into the wall or wait it out, but, given that the carcass is stuck in a dark place with no light, decomposition could take a long time.

      If there is a way that you can cut a small hole in the wall, it might be feasible to pull it out that way. I assume the wall you are referring to is a cinder block wall?

  2. At my job we are having serious rat problems,several dying in walls, finding maggots crawling under baseboards. Myself and several others have been sick, all symtoms of hantavirus. Very concerned and upset with employer, anything we can do?

    1. Tressa, there is definitely something you can do about this. Employers cannot force you to work in these types of conditions, I would contact a lawyer and discuss your options.

      Working in an environment with dead rats in the wall is dangerous and hantavirus can kill you, please do not neglect this or try to tough it out. Seek legal help immediately!

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