Identifying and Responding to Wildlife Odors
We get several questions a year about a bad smell emanating from walls. Other times the questions are about skunk spray.
Is that odor coming from the wall? The use of fiber optic scopes can save a great deal of damage to your walls.
Some Causes of Odors:
1. Feces/Urine of the animal
Some animals like bats, raccoons, flying squirrels urinate and defecate in buildings. If these nuisance animals are not removed then the fecal/urine material can build up and make a stench. Understand that you can have feces/urine in your home and not have any noticeable smell. Odors can be dissipated by attic vents and shielded by thick insulation.
WARNING: BEFORE REMOVING ANY ANIMAL FECES/URINE OR CONTAMINATED MATERIAL BE SURE YOU HAVE AN APPROPRIATE UNDERSTANDING OF THE POTENTIAL BIOHAZARDS INCUMBENT ON SUCH REMOVAL. For more info click animal diseases
2. Animal's themselves
Other times, the odors are caused by the animals themselves. Animals like raccoons and squirrels have their own odors that over time can become more pronounced in a home. Other times, these animals smell because they die in the walls or attic. Often, animals die because of the use of toxicants.
Signs that the smell emanated from a dead animal:
- Smell starts small and gets progressively stronger and lingers for days to weeks. This is especially true of skunks which die under decks and sheds.
- putrid odor
Don't be surprised at the amount of odor caused by something as small as a mouse.
3. Stink Pipes
Broken or cracked stink pipes have been known to cause persistent-intermittent odors over long periods of time. While not a common source of odor, it must be considered if other options are ruled out.
Stinkhorns are fungi that emit a powerful odor. Learn more about them here
Strategies to respond and even to prevent these odors:
- See if you can find the cause/source. Use caution when looking. Other living animals may be around. Also you should wear appropriate protective equipment in case you accidentally find the carcass. Protective clothing should include but not be limited to 1. rubber gloves inside leather gloves. 2. old clothes, 3. Properly fitted HEPA filter face mask.
- Increase air flow. Air flow dissipates the smell.
- Spray deodorant. It doesn't have to be anything special. What you like to smell is the most important aspect. Be careful what surfaces you spray the deodorant on as it may discolor the surface.
- Epoleon Corporation makes a number of deodorizing products that have a following in the Wildlife Control Community. I have never used their product. But I have heard good reports on them. You can learn more about their products by visiting their web site at www.epoleon.com
- I don't recommend tearing out the walls, because it is easy to be fooled and be one stud away. Thus requiring you to make two holes instead of one. I would suggest not using poisons to control mice as this problem can happen again although it is rare.
- Remember that the odor will go away eventually. As soon as the carcass dries out the odor will cease. Of course the larger the animal the longer it takes. This need to dry out the carcass is critical. The sooner you can dry it out the sooner the odor will leave. Of course, if you can remove the carcass (using proper protective equipment and recognizing that there may be infectious agents in the carcass) then the odor will go away even faster.
- We have heard of ozone type deodorizing and/or ionizing devices to dissipate odors. We have not been able to fully get a firm scientific handle on the validity of their claims. Be cautious about such claims from the salesmen of these machines.
- For skunk odor questions visit our skunk odor page.