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View Full Version : Are dead animals in the wall bad for you?



JennaGlatzer
08-23-2007, 11:33 AM
I can't believe I have to start another dead animal thread. Last time was a year ago, when I had dead squirrels in my chimney. Now I have a dead rodent in the wall of my living room.

About 12 days ago, there was a loud scritch-scratching in the wall all day and night. I told Anthony and he put some rat poison in our crawl space, though he didn't see any holes or droppings or anything. But by the next day, no more scratching.

I made no connection between this and the stench in the living room that began 6 days later. Until last night, when I finally put it together. Duh.

I don't know for sure what it is. A rat, probably, but it could be a muskrat or squirrel.

It costs major bucks for animal nuisance control people to come bust open the wall and get the animal out. And it's a horrible wall to work with-- it's all wood paneling, and it's an old house that probably has asbestos in the insulation. I have no idea how we'd put the wall back together (impossible to match the wood paneling again).

So my real question is: is this a health hazard? Do I have to worry for my baby? I tried Googling for answers, but most were just vague "could be a health hazard" notes with no explanation.

I'm debating whether or not to try to just wait it out and hope the thing decomposes fast.

Angelinity
08-23-2007, 11:50 AM
I'm debating whether or not to try to just wait it out and hope the thing decomposes fast.

you could go that route, but i donno, it would bother me to know there's a rotting thing only inches away that will always be there... bad vibes, too, imo -- negative energy (chi).

as for side-effects / health hazards, who knows what bugs the critter carried. also, it's likely to attract more nasties that feed on rotting flesh, ewwww!!!

personally i would get it out, no expenses spared. but if you can't, try to find the secret 'door' he came through... there must be one somewhere since it found the poison.

oswann
08-23-2007, 12:54 PM
Or tear down the wall and make your place just that little bit more open plan.

Os.

P.H.Delarran
08-23-2007, 01:07 PM
Ewww. Eventually it will just rot down to dust.
But that's gross and that would bug me. I doubt there's any health hazard, depending on size.
Send a cat in to retrieve it?:ROFL:
I really don't know, but it may be worth a call to animal control for suggestions.

Moonfish
08-23-2007, 01:29 PM
A friend of mine had mice running in the crawlspace over their bedroom. One night he had enough of the scurrying. He got up and beat the ceiling with a broomstick.
Silence.
A week later - smell. They died of fright!
I don't think he ever did anything about it though. In the end I think they just mummiefy.

akiwiguy
08-23-2007, 02:05 PM
Didn't it used to be considered good luck? I'm sure I'm not imagining it, that it used to be normal practice to put a live animal (cat?) into a wall as a house was being built? Just discussed with my wife and she vaguely has heard that too, but I can't remember enough about it to know what era we are talking.

tjwriter
08-23-2007, 02:13 PM
There's no way for you to take down a section of the paneling and then just put it back up when removal is complete?

That stinks! (Pun fully intended)

It will smell for awhile, unfortunately, but you could try to stick it out.

oswann
08-23-2007, 02:14 PM
Didn't it used to be considered good luck? I'm sure I'm not imagining it, that it used to be normal practice to put a live animal (cat?) into a wall as a house was being built? Just discussed with my wife and she vaguely has heard that too, but I can't remember enough about it to know what era we are talking.

True. The idea of house warming comes from the sacrificing of an animal (some say humans were sacrificed at the start) to put into the foundations of a new house. Over time this was watered down to giving gifts.

Os.

dclary
08-23-2007, 03:14 PM
Just buy some sort of animal that eats other dead animals. Then set IT free in the walls.

KTC
08-23-2007, 03:22 PM
Eeeew, Jenna. Gross. Are you sure it's not Jimmy Hoffa?

The_Grand_Duchess
08-23-2007, 04:40 PM
Next time, get a cat.

You can probably wait it out if you are so inclined but its going to stink for a minute. Sorry about that.

Bmwhtly
08-23-2007, 04:58 PM
Are dead animals in the wall bad for you?Not at all, they're a good source of protein.

cray
08-23-2007, 05:00 PM
agreed. no health hazard.

eta: good day, ben.

benbradley
08-23-2007, 05:05 PM
I can't imagine it's good, but just my guess, after the stink goes away it should be okay. Not sure if it's safe WHILE it stinks. How's the weather where you are? 100+ degree temps just like here? Open a window in the worst room, put in a box fan blowing out, and open some windows in a couple other rooms for air to come in. Maybe do this at night when it's not so hot.

This is why I like mousetraps much better than poison bait. It usually catches the thing (though when I was a kid I remember watching a mouse get away from a trap with a bloody eye), and you can then Properly Dispose of The Body. The only problem is if you have a pet in the house that might poke around and get hurt by the trap.

johnrobison
08-23-2007, 05:11 PM
It will dry and stop stinking in a few weeks, and you'll forget about it.

Little Red Barn
08-23-2007, 05:13 PM
Jenna, have Anthony go up to the attic--buy a bag (small ) of Lime, see if he can pour it down between the studs...I think Home Depot will tell you the same!

Tornadoboy
08-23-2007, 05:13 PM
That's the problem with poisons, Murphy's Law being what it is they WILL drop dead in the most inaccessable locations they can find, just to spite you.
Next time use either rat traps or live traps, since you'll always be able to remove the offender afterwards.

Until then? Potpouri

RumpleTumbler
08-23-2007, 05:26 PM
How about a mouse trap next time? Just as effective but the rodent dies where he put the poison and then you just toss.

maestrowork
08-23-2007, 05:29 PM
Make sure your house and attic are dry -- turn on the dehumidifier. They will dry up and reduce the smell and soon they will disintegrate... Shouldn't have any health risk, I don't think.

Kudra
08-23-2007, 06:23 PM
Get it out! I can't believe I'm the only one saying this, especially as you have a baby in the house.

They had a dead rat under the paneling of the floor where I used to work a few years ago, and they didn't take it out for a few weeks. The smell got progressively worse, but the biggest problem was that in the following days, I got the worst migraine of my life that lasted no less than two weeks. I also fell terribly ill after that, but I can't say for sure it was because of the rat.

I'm very sensitive to smells, which is why it probably affected me worse than it would have a normal person, but with a baby in the house, I wouldn't risk it. She may be sensitive to smells, too. And you just really never know. Be safe.

GeorgeK
08-23-2007, 06:34 PM
Talk to anyone in the construction business that does remodeling. EVERY house has critters in the walls. It is not unusual or rare. It will smell for probably a week, and then you won't notice it.

Bmwhtly
08-23-2007, 06:43 PM
Get it out!I agree, BBQ's are always fun.

benbradley
08-23-2007, 07:09 PM
Make sure your house and attic are dry -- turn on the humidifier. They will dry up and reduce the smell and soon they will disintegrate... Shouldn't have any health risk, I don't think.

I presume you mean DEhumidifier. Air conditioning also removes moisture from the air and will help this stinky thing dry out faster.

davids
08-23-2007, 07:49 PM
Get it out! I can't believe I'm the only one saying this, especially as you have a baby in the house.

They had a dead rat under the paneling of the floor where I used to work a few years ago, and they didn't take it out for a few weeks. The smell got progressively worse, but the biggest problem was that in the following days, I got the worst migraine of my life that lasted no less than two weeks. I also fell terribly ill after that, but I can't say for sure it was because of the rat.

I'm very sensitive to smells, which is why it probably affected me worse than it would have a normal person, but with a baby in the house, I wouldn't risk it. She may be sensitive to smells, too. And you just really never know. Be safe.


Jenna I do not really know you-but you are a beautiful lady with a beautiful child-SPEND THE MONEY-chances are something you take in Vegas-and usually you lose!!!

Rich
08-23-2007, 07:56 PM
Next time it happens, first try glue pads witha little raw bacon in the middle. Then place it under somthing where you can REACH IN--then throw the trap away.

larocca
08-23-2007, 08:00 PM
Free advice is worth every penny you pay for it, and here's some.

Where I used to work in the US, there were dead rats inside the wall where we couldn't get to them without tearing the mess out of our brand new factory, so the exterminator told us to just drop some mothballs down there to kill the smell. We did. Problem solved.

Don't know what to tell you about the germ aspects, though.

acharity
08-23-2007, 08:03 PM
So my real question is: is this a health hazard? Do I have to worry for my baby? I tried Googling for answers, but most were just vague "could be a health hazard" notes with no explanation.

I'm debating whether or not to try to just wait it out and hope the thing decomposes fast.

It might be... like it's been already said, who knows what bugs and stuff that thing was carrying... not to mention what things will be attracted to the stench of it rotting... it will be a hassle to have it removed but then you could have an open floor plan like it's been suggested (: And you could also (maybe) find how it got in your walls in the first place and have it sealed off if possible.

Mjollnir13
08-23-2007, 08:04 PM
When dating my wife, her mom used poison to kill some mice they had, which killed them in the walls. It smelled horrible for about 2 weeks but that was it. Nobody got sick and I didn't notice anymore insects or other critters.

Kate Thornton
08-23-2007, 08:10 PM
Jenna - there should be no danger, just the inconvenient odor.

If you can access the area to drop in a mothball or two, that will help with the smell. But as long as neither you nor your baby can touch the decomposing life form, you should be fine. Nature will take its course and the poor little thing will mummify and cease to be a niusance.

And it is a common occurrence!

RumpleTumbler
08-23-2007, 08:15 PM
If you can access the area to drop in a mothball or two, that will help with the smell.

Hmmmmm mothballs......dead animal....mothballs.....dead animal.......

Let me get back to you on that.

pollykahl
08-23-2007, 09:09 PM
"as long as neither you nor your baby can touch the decomposing life form, you should be fine. Nature will take its course and the poor little thing will mummify and cease to be a niusance."

It's true. It will not hurt you. Other than assailing your delicate nostrils, which can be nauseating. We called an exterminator when it happened to us, and he said that because we have plaster walls in a house from 1930, it was too much hassle to open the wall. We had what he said smelled like a dead mouse, and for such a little bugger, it gave off an incredible stench. There is no health hazard as long as you don't touch it. Let nature take its course. Wait two weeks and it will be gone. If it's a room you can close off, do so, and open a window as often as possible. Moth balls and baking powder set about in open containers are the best you can do.

Keep small open containers of moth balls (or is it mothballs? I'd hate you to think I was discussing moths' balls here) in your attic and basement, at windows or anywhere there could be small openings. Mice can squeeze into even the smallest cracks, and squirrels and raccoons can get in between your walls and up into your attic. Mothballs are poisnous to humans and animals and rodents from mice to raccoons will avoid them. Animals' senses of smells are much more acute than ours and you don't need a lot of the mothballs. When the weather turns cold, animals will be looking for places to stay for the winter. Now is the time to prepare. Our one little mouse stunk to holy hell. I can't even imagine what a raccoon would be like.

Oberon
08-23-2007, 10:57 PM
I know nothing about your house. If you have an attic it may be possible to get to the studs (under the top plate), find the between-studs place where the critter is and fish it out somehow, literally - fishhook and sinker on a line. Otherwise, unless you or your baby are really suffering, it will dry up eventually. Your house will be graced by a little skeleton in the wall instead of the closet. That's the problem with poison. And any animal that eats the poisoned animal will also die. We used live traps on our ranch, because my father was a naturalist, and he used the mice to find out how they navigated. he discovered that they could find their way back (and walk right back into the trap) from as far away as two miles. If you live trap them you can just flush them.

BarbJ
08-23-2007, 11:22 PM
Originally Posted by Arch-chancellor Jenna: "Are dead animals in the wall bad for you?"

Only if they come back with little capes and fangs.

Seriously, I think you and the baby will be fine. The mothball idea is a new one on me, but it sounds effective. Just make sure they are where the baby can't get them. (Is there such a place?)

Jean Marie
08-24-2007, 12:00 AM
Um, I dropped mothballs down...once...and it was the biggest mistake I ever made.

Wished I'd never done it and just lived w/ the damned smell.

Dead rodent + moth balls = wanting to barf for someone sensitive to odors. Just mentioning this, Jenna, knowing how you are.

Don't use moth balls, Jenna!

Kate Thornton
08-24-2007, 01:02 AM
The moth balls do have an offensive odor of their own, and not decomposing organic natural, either. Perhaps a little vicks in the nose (old morgue trick) for a couple of weeks...it'll clear your sinuses, too.

pollykahl
08-24-2007, 02:38 AM
"If you have an attic it may be possible to get to the studs (under the top plate), find the between-studs place where the critter is and fish it out somehow, literally - fishhook and sinker on a line. "

Cool!

"That's the problem with poison."

We didn't even use poison. The mouse in our wall must have died of old age or some other reason, like maybe it fell and broke its back, or got stuck in a crevice and starved to death.

The exterminator was the one who told us to get the mothballs not only for the odor, but to prevent future infestation, but like Jean Maire said, they may be as offensive as the carcass.

I hope you'll let us know what you do.

JanDarby
08-24-2007, 02:49 AM
Dunno about the original question, but be careful with having mothballs around a youngster or pets. I believe they're highly toxic.

JD

Carrie in PA
08-24-2007, 02:52 AM
AAAAAAAAAACK!!! NO NO NO Do not throw mothballs down the walls!!! Nooooo, you do not want to do that. They're worse than decaying rodent, I promise you!

In a few days the smell will dissipate and all will be well.

I just wouldn't host any dinner parties for a couple of weeks. :D

zahra
08-24-2007, 06:07 PM
Didn't it used to be considered good luck? I'm sure I'm not imagining it, that it used to be normal practice to put a live animal (cat?) into a wall as a house was being built? Just discussed with my wife and she vaguely has heard that too, but I can't remember enough about it to know what era we are talking.
Yes, they were called apotropaeic marks; symbols to ward off bad luck and spells. Popular from the 13th to 19th centuries. Sometimes it was shoes or other pieces of clothing put into the walls.

So while you might have a bad smell and noxious decomposing fumes, hey, your luck will be great!

Kudra
08-24-2007, 08:07 PM
So while you might have a bad smell and noxious decomposing fumes, hey, your luck will be great!

That was with live animals. This one is dead. Dead, dead, dead. Ugggh, Jenna, I'm having a headache just thinking about that dead thing in your wall.

Ick. Ick. Ick.

zahra
08-24-2007, 08:49 PM
That was with live animals. This one is dead. Dead, dead, dead.
Ick. Ick. Ick.
Yes, but the point is that it would die pretty quickly and its spirit guard against evil.

Kudra
08-24-2007, 08:55 PM
Oh.

(I have to stop checking this thread.)

C.bronco
08-24-2007, 09:01 PM
Eww. No, they won't hurt you, but they sure smell awful. As long as you don't eat it, you'll be fine.
I remember the mouse that lived in my parent's wall. His name was Wally, and he peeped out from the hole near the stove to steal catfood. Then, one day, we had that smell, and Wally, alas, came back no more. RIP little guy.

Joe270
08-24-2007, 10:30 PM
Ah, you should be thankful. It could be worse.

You could have a dead cow in your wall.

It could happen.

Then you'd have a problem, let me tell you.

Haggis
08-24-2007, 11:34 PM
Ah, you should be thankful. It could be worse.

You could have a dead cow in your wall.

It could happen.

Then you'd have a problem, let me tell you.

I'm just trying to imagine the size of the mothball you'd need.

zahra
08-25-2007, 02:07 AM
Ah, you should be thankful. It could be worse.

You could have a dead cow in your wall.

It could happen.

.
No, it couldn't. ;)

Danger Jane
08-25-2007, 02:10 AM
I don't think so...we had a dead mouse or squirrel or something in the wall a few years ago and while it reeked for a couple of weeks...might heve been longer...nobody got sick.

It really stinks though.

btw jenna I gave you to Poetinahat for his birthday and thought I should like, run it by you, since you are you. Just letting you know. The car will arrive shortly.

JennaGlatzer
08-25-2007, 02:20 AM
:D

Okay, the plan for now:

The rodent stinks less now. Actually, I'm the only one who smells anything. Neither Anthony nor my mom could smell it even when I thought it was bad a couple of days ago. (I have a serious sniffer.) So I revise my original theory and guess now that it's just a mouse, which people say normally quits stinking within 2 weeks at most. (Larger animals take longer.)

All the research I've done seems to boil down to that the only health hazard would be if the dead critter or any insects that may be attached to it were IN the house, and that the odor can be obnoxious but can't make anyone sick (aside from possible migraines and such, like Mridu mentioned). So I'm just keeping all the windows open and keeping baby out of that room until the odor is definitively gone. There's no odor anywhere in the house except that one room.

Anthony went into the crawl space and ripped out insulation and tried to figure out where the thing is, but no dice. And there's just no way to do this without breaking down a wall that can't be properly fixed, and will cost about $500 in the process. Considering I've made a grand total of about $200 in the past 6 months... well, you see where this is going.

Point is, I'm waiting it out. Even though it gives me the creeps like crazy.

JennaGlatzer
08-25-2007, 02:21 AM
btw jenna I gave you to Poetinahat for his birthday and thought I should like, run it by you, since you are you. Just letting you know. The car will arrive shortly.

Oh, cool! You mean I can stay at his place while this rodent decomposes? Um... I get to bring the baby, too, right?

Danger Jane
08-25-2007, 02:24 AM
Sure, bring the baby, just there's one other thing...it was a MINI you that I have him so the car will be stopping at a mad scientist's laboratory to shrink you first. You'll be about six inches when he's done, I think.

Susie
08-25-2007, 05:10 AM
Sure hope you get the problem solved. I know when my sister had a bat in her attic she had to spend $900 to get the darn thing out!

Kentuk
08-25-2007, 05:31 AM
Ah we know you came to us for permission to renovate. Ignore the ignorence advice and take out a loan.

Joe270
08-25-2007, 01:22 PM
For that much money, I'm still betting there's a freakin' cow in there.

larocca
08-27-2007, 07:37 PM
All in all it's just another rat in the wall
All in all it's just another skunk in the wall

Everybody sing!

WerenCole
08-27-2007, 09:09 PM
I have often wondered about the "dead animal in the wall is probably not good for the resale value" question.


I once lost two kitties in a wall . . . but they came back. Ever seen Amor es Perros? The dog lost in the floor? Yeah. . .really, these things happen.


I least it was just a rodent and not a beloved member of the household.

Old Hack
08-28-2007, 11:15 PM
When we first moved in here, we found a dead cat bricked in beside an attic chimney. It was curled up, as if sleeping, and completely mummified. There were a few other bits and pieces there too: an old leather shoe, and some crumbles that could once have been paper. So we just rebuilt the wall and left him there. He belonged.

Since then there have been all sorts of dead things: mice, squirrels, voles, birds. In the chimneys, behind walls, under floorboards--you name a space, there are dead things there. They do mummify, and don't seem to pose any health hazard apart from the smell which does diminish quite quickly.

We share our homes with all sorts of other residents we know little about. Some more pleasant than others, but it all works out in the end.

Oh, and Jenna--if it's any consolation, my two boys are far healthier than most of their friends, who live in better-heated, more suburban homes than our country wreck. Think of how strong the lovely Sarina is going to be as she grows.

Joe270
08-29-2007, 12:25 AM
Any cows in those walls, Hack?

Just curious.

zahra
08-29-2007, 01:02 AM
When we first moved in here, we found a dead cat bricked in beside an attic chimney. It was curled up, as if sleeping, and completely mummified. There were a few other bits and pieces there too: an old leather shoe, and some crumbles that could once have been paper. .

OH, this is definitely apotropaeic stuff! You lucky muffin!