It starts small, just a hint of a whiff of a smell that comes and goes. You wonder if it's your imagination, or maybe some odor coming in from the street.
But then it comes back, stronger than it was before, and you know it's not in your imagination at all.
It's the unmistakable smell of something dead, somewhere in your home.
There are all kinds of reasons why animals die inside homes and other buildings. Sometimes it's natural causes, other times it's some illness that they picked up in the wild. Sometimes they were injured and managed to get back home -- to your home -- and then succumbed to their injuries. And sometimes they die because they ate poison -- maybe the same poison put down by an old-school exterminator who still believes that poisoning animals is the best way to control them.
No matter what the reason, though, one thing remains the same: When an animal dies in your home, it can stink up the whole house. And depending on the size of the animal and the temperature and humidity in the place where it died, that smell can take a long, long time to go away.
As if the stench of an animal carcass weren't enough to make you gag, there are health risks associated with dead animals. In fact, having a dead animal in your home can sometimes be more dangerous than having a living one. Here are some of the reasons why.
Parasites. Most living animals have parasites such as fleas, ticks, mites, lice, and so forth. Many times those parasites are also vectors of bacterial, viral, or parasitic diseases. (Yes, even parasites have parasites.) When the host animal dies, the parasites lose their meal ticket, and go looking for a new host. Depending on the parasite -- some are pickier about what kind of hosts they like than others -- that new host may be you.
Bacteria. There's a reason why dead animals smell so bad. It's because their rotting corpses are a veritable buffet for all sorts of harmful bacteria whose biological processes generate foul odors. Some of the components of the smell include sulfur dioxide, methane, various long-branch hydrocarbons, and many other chemicals that we have learned to avoid over the course of human history. The smell, and our negative reaction to it, are part of our survival programming. The stench is a warning that the source can make us sick.
Fungi. There also are many fungal organisms that feed on dead flesh, as well as fungi that thrive in animal droppings. Some of these fungi are harmless to humans, but others are not. If the spores from harmful fungi get into the air in the living area of the home (which is easily possible if you have forced-air heat or central air-conditioning), they can make you sick.
In short, the reason that we perceive the smell of a dead animal as disgusting is because it represents something that is unhealthy and dangerous for us: rotting flesh and all the disease-causing organisms associated with it.
The Atlanta Regional Office of Rid-A-Critter provides dead animal removal throughout Metropolitan Atlanta and its suburbs. Admittedly, it's not our favorite sort of work, but we do it because we know it's important. We also provide odor-control services, if needed, to help your house get fresh-smelling again.
Our animal carcass removal and odor-control services may include (depending on the situation):
In other words, we don't just stuff the carcass in a plastic bag and toss it in the trash. That's not how we operate. We pride ourselves on our professionalism in every job we do.
Needless to say, the most important step in avoiding dead animal problems is to avoid live animal problems. Please consider calling us for an inspection of your home to see if your house is a candidate for our animal exclusion service. Other things you can do include:
Our Webmaster and most of our Wildlife Management Specialists are avid photographers who collectively snap hundreds of pictures a week. The ones selected for use on the site are the ones that we think our visitors will enjoy the most.
Pictures of dead animals rotting away simply don't make the cut.
For help with any animal problem -- even dead animal problems -- please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.