Dead Animal Removal & Odor Control
Sometimes the wildlife living inside of homes or buildings dies.
The most common complaints include the following:
- Terrible odor inside home
- Terrible odor outside home
- Presence of swarms of flies
- Concern over health risks
- Stains on ceiling or wall
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For these reasons, many people wish to have dead carcasses removed, and the area deodorized or decontaminated.
The primary problem with dead animals, of course, is the odor. When an animal dies in the home, it will naturally start to decay. As it does, it gives off organic compound odorant molecules which we detect with our olfactory sense. The odor may be slight at first, but after about three days after the death of the animal, the odor can be quite strong. The strength of the odor depends on many factors:
Size of Animal: A larger animal means more decaying flesh, which means a stronger odor. A dead possum has a stronger odor than a dead mouse.
Animal Species: Different animals actually have different odors as they decay. Rats are particularly foul, per body weight.
Location of Carcass: This is a big deal. If it dies down a centrally located wall in an area with poor ventilation, watch out. If it dies at the edge of the attic near a ventilated soffit, not so bad.
State of Decomposition: At first the odor is weak, then it grows, then as maggots eat the carcass and the biomass decreases, the odor gradually lessens. The odor life cycle varies, depending on the size of the animal.
Temperature: The dead animal will decompose more quickly at higher temperatures. Furthermore, the dispersal of odor molecules is stronger at higher temperatures - hotter = smellier.
Humidity: Ability to perceive odors is typically heightened at higher humidities.
Air Flow: This is a big deal. Sometimes with a dead animal, people say, "I smell it stronger in the morning" or some variant. It all depends on where the air is flowing. If the dead animal is in the attic, perhaps as the attic cools off at night, the odor molecules sink down to the house level, but as the attic heats up in the day, the stinky air rises up and doesn't smell as strong in the house.
Regardless of the exact strength of the odor, most people cannot tolerate the stench caused by a dead animal in the house.
It's simply very unpleasant, end of story.
HOW DO I GET RID OF DEAD ANIMALS? Dead animal removal is sometimes simple, sometimes very difficult, and always dirty. In a simple case, an animal will die somewhere in plain view - such as under a house, in plain sight in the attic, or so on. However, most of the time, the animal dies in an unknown area - down a wall, in the ductwork, under the insulation, etc. It is our job to find and remove the dead animal, and clean up any residuals (juices, maggots, etc.). Some jobs are incredibly challenging - animals will crawl into the craziest areas - the gap under the bathtub, the gap between the chimney flu and the brick column, in between floors of a home, etc. Wherever it is, we'll find and remove it, and deodorize the area. It's also important to find the cause of the problem - how did the animal get in? - and take preventative steps to stop the same thing from happening again.
Dead Animal In Attic: It's very common for the wildlife living in your attic to die there. Why die outside where it's cold and wet, when you can do it in the comfort of your own home? When an animal dies in the attic, most of the smell accumulates in the house. It can be tricky to find it up there because it might be buried under the insulation. But persistence always pays off, and I find the critter.
Dead Animal In Wall: Animals sometimes live in walls or fall down a slick wall and are unable to crawl out. If you don't get them while they're alive and scratching, they die at the bottom of the wall near the baseboards, or wherever there's a support beam. To find a dead animal in the wall, I sniff and sniff until I find the right spot, then cut a hole to remove the carcass. I always fix the hole afterward.
Dead Animal In Chimney: This is not terribly common, but it does happen, especially if you've got a slick metal chimney flu that the animals are unable to climb out of. If the animal is in the flu above the damper, it's not a problem. If they're between metal flues, then it is a big problem. I sometimes get animals out of the fireplace.
Dead Animal In Ducts: People always think the dead body is in the ductwork, but this is rarely the case. It's just that people are confused by the airflow, which stirs up the bad smell. It's not common for a critter to enter the AC system.
Dead Animal Under the House: Yes, raccoons, opossums, and even cats love to live under elevated houses, in the crawl space. They frequently die under there. Because these are larger animals, the smell can last several weeks, even up to two months, so I recommend that you hire someone like me to crawl under there and bag the animal.
People ask me if I use special equipment to find and remove the dead animals. Well, aside from telescoping inspection mirrors and sometimes a fiber optic scope, and reciprocating saws to cut holes, not really. There is no special "odor detection machine" that I use to find the deceased wildlife carcasses. My big, fancy tool? - My nose! Yes, I just sniff and sniff, like a dog, right on every wall and ceiling, until I narrow down and find the source of the odor. That's it! Sometimes it takes a lot of hard work and patience, and most of all, persistence! I never give up until I find the body. I've got many years of experience, and I understand animal behavior and building architecture, and I've gotten really good at finding those dead animals.
DEAD ANIMAL DISEASES: I'm really not an expert in this field. Oftentimes when I remove a dead animal, it's covered with parasites such as fleas, mites, or ticks, and these organisms can carry and transmit disease. Perhaps there's some pathogen on the dead animal that is harmful. Certainly, one should not touch or ingest any part of a dead animal - there's a reason we think stinky things are stinky - it's our body's way of saying "Do not touch. Stay away". I have reason to believe that a dead animal may potentially pose some health risk in a home, and I always wear full protection - gloves, HEPA gas mask, etc. when dealing with dead animal carcasses.