Is Breathing in Dead Animal Fumes Harmful? [Answered with Tips on How to Fix It]

You’re at home and suddenly catch a whiff of something like rotting meat. It’s pungent and definitely unmistakable.

If you haven’t had to deal with this, count yourself lucky. I have, and it can be unpleasant and unsettling to say the least. I’ve had it happen to me at home and in my car.

Your first question is likely going to be where is it coming from and how do I get rid of it.

But if you are having to deal with the smell for some time before you can get it taken care of, you might also be wondering if those dead animal fumes are harmful to your health.

Now, that dead animal may be a rodent of some sort (which is likely), but it can also be another animal that happened to get stuck somewhere (maybe in the vents or behind a wall) and is now decomposing.

If it’s a rodent, you should definitely exercise caution. As many of you may know, rats and mice can carry diseases and their droppings can be very dangerous, even if you breathe them in. We’ll get into all of that below.

What We’ll Cover

In this article, I am going to answer the question of whether a dead animal’s fumes are harmful, with a particular focus on rodents, since they are the most common deal animal you will likely find in your home. I will also offer some basic tips on how to find and remove them safely.

If you don’t have the time to read through it all, here’s a short answer to the question:

The smell of a dead animal decomposing is not, by itself harmful to your health, but if you are nearby and inhale harmful gases and particles from the decaying animal, you could get sick.

Ok, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it.

What Happens When an Animal Dies in Your Home?

When a mouse or rat dies in your home, it immediately starts to decompose. That process can lead to a variety of gases being emitted, including a mix of sulfur dioxides, methane and other noxious gases which can cause that awful odor.

The dead animal can also attract bugs, maggots and the like which will want to eat the decaying flesh. I know, it’s completely gross.

Is Breathing in the Fumes of a Dead Animal Harmful To You?

As I mentioned above, the smell itself is not necessarily harmful, but the gases and small particles coming from the carcass can make you sick. Also, if there are rodent droppings near the dead animal and you inhale particles from those, you can also get sick.

The bottom line is that you should remove the dead animal from your home as soon as possible.

How Do I Find and Remove a Dead Animal Safely?

Of course, the safest way to do this is to hire a professional pest removal company. They are going to have the tools and know how to find where the deal animal is located and remove them safely from your home.

But if you don’t want to spend the money to hire someone, you can try to identify the location yourself.

The only real way to do this is to figure out where the smell is strongest and try to pinpoint the animal’s location from there. Your nose is your best tool. But you should also be on the lookout for telltale signs of a dead animal nearby, such as insects, droppings, and the like.

If the animal is trapped behind a wall, ceiling or crawlspace, or deep in a vent, you may have no choice but to call in a pro to help locate and remove it.

How Do I Get Rid of the Dead Animal Smell After It Has Been Removed?

Once you have removed the dead animal and done a basic cleaning of the area, most of the smell should be gone.

But if there is a lingering odor, you can re-clean the area with disinfectant and make sure you remove any droppings or other mess left by the animal. Then make sure the area is well ventilated for a little while, so the place is completely dry and the remaining odor has had a chance to get vented away.


So there you have it – a clear answer to whether inhaling dead animal fumes is harmful and some tips on how to get rid of the offending odors in your home. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!