Do mice stink when they die?

For the most part people are pretty adamant about getting rid of mice. They aren’t fond of the idea of the little critters slinking around the kitchen, sneaking in the pantry and leaving all those little doo doo reminders in the silverware drawer. They know they want the mouse (or mice) gone but other than having the live problem running around I find that the #2 cause for concern for most people is having dead ones. Don’t get me wrong, dead is good for these folks but not dead in a wall or under a stove or other hard to locate place. This secondary worry can be just as strong for many people and they often ask me not to bait because there is no control of just where the rodent will end up when it expires. Their fear is that should the critter end up in a wall or other such inaccessible place and they’ll be stuck with days if not weeks of a morbid smell and that just simply won’t do. Oddly enough I also find that it’s these same people who raise concerns over traps or glue stations mostly because they don’t want to see the deceased mouse either but I digress.

Now I’m sure there are tens of thousands of example out there where a mouse that has died has legitimately produced an odor. Considering the mouse population in this country this doesn’t surprise me nor does it change my thinking. Incidentally, mice populations have been known to get as high as 80,000 per acre in some areas and as low as 4 to 12 in others. With that many mice anythings possible but consider this; I have done pest control for 30 years and found easily 10,000 dead mice and rarely ever smelled anything foul. Anecdotal? Maybe, you decide.

Hardly a week goes by where I don’t find an old mouse carcass behind a stove or a refrigerator that you can tell died long ago. The homeowner usually shrieks and then reports they never smelled a thing. When I do use glue or snap traps it’s not uncommon for me to come back for a regular visit (2 months later) and find that I’ve caught one or two and still, the client never smelled a thing. The times I have found mice to produce an odor have almost always been when the deceased mouse has ended up in a heated area or place with moisture or multiple mice are caught in one area. Spots like a refrigerator with the motor creating heat and the air is forced up and out, or times when 4 or 5 mice are caught on one glue pad.

The fact is mice are very small and only weigh about 2 ounces, they eat approximately 3 grams per day and do not require straight drinking water. Put this together and you really don’t have a whole lot of body mass to produce very much in the way of smell. Rats on the other hand can weigh close to a pound and can smell to high heaven as well as other small rodents like squirrels. For an experiment try putting 2 ounces of hamburger meat behind your stove and see if in a day or two you get a smell. Then if you’re brave enough do the same with a pound. (no ones ever tried it) My guess is you’ll come to the same conclusion I have. While I’m sure I won’t convince many of you out there who read this I’ll offer this last thought to the doubters. There’s an old saying where one verbalizes they don’t believe what they’re being presented with, this old adage uses a rodent to describe this mistrust but it’s not the mouse they used, can you guess what it is?

“I think I smell a rat”
Let me know what you think, comment below. Also, consider to just let the experts handle it when it comes to rodent control. It’s almost always your best bet for quick and efficient control.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Conversely. Its been rare that I haven’t kicked up a ‘stink’ when dealing with mice.
    Probably comes down to location location location…..If I use poison, two weeks later the place is gonna smell bad for sure. Of course I’ve pulled out the odd ‘lollipop’ stick of a dried up crispy fur ball, but these have gone way beyond the decomposition stage and I guess I wasn’t there for that. Oh yeah, I was clearing a false ceiling space the other day and hadn’t notice the thumb of my glove had come off. You guessed, thumb went right into the belly of a ‘peak’ decomposing mouse! Took six washes to get rid of the smell and six days to get it out of my nose……………………….

  • Ohhhhhhhhh, that image is gonna stick in my head awhile. Thx, 😉

    I’m actually surprised by the response I got with this article-mainly on Facebook- I hardly ever find ‘stinky’ mice and I find many in all states of degradation but most pros that have chimed in say just the opposite. Not sure what to make of it really. Maybe I should check myself into a nose clinic and get my schnoz checked out. lol

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

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  • Tina

    I’ve had several rodent problems over the years, I live in Scotland in a ground floor flat, no basement. The first sign was about 6years ago. Kept hearing noisy critters in my kitchen but no droppings of any sort. Eventually one morning I walked into my kitchen and about half a loaf of bread had been eaten, crumbs everywhere. I called pest control the guy said must be rats to eat such a huge amount but no droppings. After several weeks of poison being ignored they started eating it. I can’t say I noticed a smell but there were lots of flies in my hall. Fast forward a few years. Lots of noise in walls around bedroom and actually see rat in kitchen. Pest control say mice. I said rats. Still no droppings! I was at the end of my tether, I’m not scared of rodents, we had pets growing up but I know the damage and disease are factors. My friend got her husband who used to work pest control to put down rat traps. Checked next day. Massive rat. He put poison in crawlspace under the floor and in the kitchen. It was getting eaten big time. Managed to find where they were getting into my kitchen and he blocked it off. I live in social housing, my landlord should have done it and more, but they did very little and it was an ongoing problem for about a year that time. That was last summer and the stench of dead rat decaying for a couple of months is something I will never forget. I’m completely paranoid everytime I hear a noise in the walls now. There’s been more noise lately, louder noises and the poison I kept under my kitchen cabinet had been tucked into within the last month. There’s still some under the floor but the scatterings had gone mouldy so I don’t want to look in case I disturb mould spores. It’s crazy that I’m hoping it’s mice this time but it’s always been rats and honestly, my kitchen is clean. Reading that mice can do just as much damage as rats is disturbing and I’m just starting to despair again

  • Some structures are prone more than others- Look at the link to the right of the screen. Fresh cab is an all natural mice repellant…smells good too. If it is mice, this could keep them out.. Also, I’m not sure what some of your ordinances are but bait stations on the ‘exterior’ may help quite a bit. There are some made now that can be anchored and are tamper resistant.. Might stop the rats before they get in.