Do Dead Squirrels Smell? [Causes & Solutions]

do dead squirrels smell

We’ve all smelled that dead animal smell. It’s the first sign that an animal has died in our yard, garage, car, walls, etc. Decomposition is a natural process that involves various stages and can have a noticeable odor. So how long does the smell last, and what can you do to remove it? Well, let’s take a look. 

A dead squirrel can start smelling within three days of the death, and the odor can linger for up to two weeks after death. During this time, the rodent’s body goes through the composition process, which breaks down the tissues, releasing gases and chemicals that produce the foul odor. 

No one wants to deal with a dead squirrel or animal (especially a skunk) on their premises. However, as we expand urban areas and build new homes, we’ll continue to have squirrels look for places to build nests and search for homes. So understanding the stages of decomposition will give you a clearer idea of what to expect when dealing with a deceased squirrel. Plus, we’ll share some tips on how to remove the dead squirrel smell. 

Do Dead Squirrels Smell

All dead carcasses smell, even humans. For example, when a squirrel dies, its body starts to break down and release gases, which can cause a strong odor. 

The foul odor comes from the gases and chemicals released by the body as it decomposes. 

As the decomposition progresses, you might observe other signs, like the following:

  • A faint buzzing sound, possibly caused by flies attracted to the carcass.
  • A dead carcass will leave an unusual stain on walls, floors, etc., resulting from the fluid drainage.

Finding the dead squirrel as quickly as possible is crucial. The quicker you find it, the less cleanup you’ll have to do. In addition, you won’t have to suffer through that horrible smell. 

How Long Does It Take For A Dead Squirrel to Start Smelling?

As soon as a squirrel or animal dies, the decomposition process begins immediately. Several factors can speed up the decomposition factor, such as; 

  • Temperature: Warmer temperatures can intensify the odor more quickly than cooler temperatures. 
  • Location: The smell may dissipate more readily if the squirrel dies in an open, well-ventilated area. The odor will be stronger and harder to eliminate in places with poor air circulation, such as within walls or attics.
  • Size of the squirrel: Smaller squirrels may not smell as strongly as larger ones and may decompose more quickly.
  • Scavengers: Vultures, raccoons, insects, and other scavengers can help reduce the decomposition process because they consume the carcass.

If you’ve found a dead squirrel in your walls, you must first locate and remove the body. Then you can try opening windows and using electric fans to facilitate ventilation. 

Using air fresheners and disinfectants can help mask the smell. However, the smell won’t go away until the carcass has fully decomposed and dried out. 

Stages of Death

To better understand the smell of dead squirrels, you must first understand the stages of death. There are six primary stages of death, each contributing to the decomposition process in its own way.

Stage 1: Pallor Mortis

During the pallor mortis stage, the body begins to lose its natural color due to the lack of circulation. In addition, the blood starts to settle, and the skin becomes pale. The pallor mortis stage occurs within the first hour after death. 

Stage 2: Algor Mortis

During Algor Mortis, the body starts to lose heat and gradually cools down until it reaches the temperature of its surroundings. Depending on the environmental conditions, this cooling process typically takes a few hours to a full day.

Stage 3: Rigor Mortis

Rigor Mortis is the stage where the body experiences stiffness due to a buildup of lactic acid and the hardening of muscle proteins. This process usually begins within 2 to 6 hours after death and can last up to 72 hours.

Stage 4: Livor Mortis

Livor Mortis sets in as the body continues to decompose, causing a reddish-purple discoloration on the parts where the blood has settled due to gravity. This stage occurs 2 to 4 hours after death and becomes more noticeable over time.

Stage 5: Putrefaction

Putrefaction is the stage at which the body starts to break down, and bacteria within the body begin to digest tissues. This process produces foul-smelling gases, and during this stage, a dead squirrel is likely to emit a strong odor. Putrefaction can occur anywhere from 2 to 3 days after death and last several weeks.

Stage 6: Skeletonization

The final stage of decomposition is Skeletonization. This is where all the soft tissues break down, leaving behind the skeleton. The skeletonization process may take several months to years, depending on factors such as climate and the presence of scavengers.

It’s crucial to note that each stage contributes to the decomposition process and the specific smell experienced when dealing with a dead squirrel. Therefore, understanding these stages can help you better manage and anticipate the odors that may arise.

How to Get Rid of Dead Squirrel Smells

Now that you understand the stages of composition, below are some tips to help you eliminate the dead animal smell. 

1. Locate and remove the dead squirrel: The easiest and quickest way to get rid of the smell is to get rid of the carcass. Once you remove the carcass, you won’t have to worry about the decomposition process. 

2. Ventilate the area: Open your windows and doors to let fresh air in and dilute the unpleasant odor. Of course, this only works if the squirrel died inside your attic.

3. Neutralize the odor: There are several natural deodorizers that can help neutralize the smell:

  • Baking soda: Sprinkle baking soda onto the area where the squirrel died, as it’s effective at absorbing the odor.
  • Charcoal: Place activated charcoal near the affected area, as it can also help to absorb and neutralize the smell.

4. Use odor elimination products: If the smell persists, consider using products like Bac-A-Zap Odor Eliminator or Odor Hunter, which utilize enzymes to break down odor-carrying molecules.

These steps work for eliminating or reducing the dead squirrel smell. They also work for any dead animal smell.  

Always remember to wear gloves and take necessary precautions when dealing with carcasses to avoid any health risks.

What Does A Dead Squirrel In The Attic Smell Like?

what to do when a squirrel dies in the attic

When you have a dead squirrel in your attic, the smell can be quite noticeable and unpleasant. The odor is characterized as a rotten smell that can become more intense over time. 

Following the flies and maggots is the easiest way to track the carcass, as they will be more prevalent because of the smell. Unfortunately, the smell will linger until you find and remove the carcass. 

If the animal died inside the wall, you would likely have to cut into the wall to get rid of the carcass. This is why some homeowners refuse to bait and kill rats, mice, and squirrels. 

Instead, they hire a pest control service to help them get the squirrel out of the attic. Hiring a professional may be costly, but it will save you money in the long run. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for a dead squirrel to start smelling?

It takes a few days for you to notice the horrid smell of a dead squirrel. However, the speed of composition can vary on different factors such as; temperature, humidity, etc. 

Can the smell of a dead squirrel be harmful?

You can’t get sick from the smell of a dead carcass if you don’t touch it. However, during the composition process, the carcass releases bacteria which can expose people to disease causing pathogens. So wearing gloves is essential when handling a dead squirrel or any animal. 

What’s the best way to get rid of a dead squirrel smell?

There are numerous ways to address the odor of a dead squirrel. A few simple home remedies to help absorb the smell include:

  • Placing cups of vinegar in the affected areas.
  • Using coffee grounds as a natural deodorizer.
  • Placing an air freshener throughout the house or affected area.

Final Word

The decomposition process is the breakdown of the body’s internal chemicals and gasses. Unfortunately, this causes a foul odor on even the smallest animals and rodents, even squirrels. 

When you find a dead squirrel on your property, dispose of it properly and promptly while wearing gloves. Contact a professional squirrel removal company if you’re unsure how to do it or don’t want to touch it. 

The sooner you dispose of the carcass, the sooner the bad dead squirrel smell will disappear!

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