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Proper Dead Animal Carcass Disposal

When it comes to dealing with nuisance wildlife, sometimes the problem homeowners encounter has nothing to do with a live animal. Sometimes a smell pops up, or an animal body appears in the yard, and now you have a different type of problem on your hands.

So, what do you do with a dead animal?

Step number one: Call your local health department and see if there are any restrictions on where you live. Some people, particularly those in urban areas, aren’t allowed to bury dead animals on their property due to public sanitation/health considerations. Let’s be honest; it just isn’t practical to bury a dead animal in the back yard when you have neighbors on all four sides, just a stone’s throw away.

Why shouldn’t you bury a dead animal in your backyard? Aside from the risk of diseases and parasites leeching out into the soil, urban settings are too close quarters for some of the issues that arise with the decomposition process.

Pipes and wires: Depth of burial site is extremely important when burying a dead animal, and homes in the city may not have the area to accomplish this. Most animal burial sites need to be 3 or 4 feet deep, and if you’re embedded in the heart of a city, you may not have this space to work with. The last thing you want is to be digging and hit a public utility line of gas, water, or electric!

Smell: Sometimes, burying an animal in a small backyard leaves you vulnerable to smell. Again, depth of burial is important. If you can’t get far enough down into the soil, the gases released from the decomposition process will leak out. What are you going to do if this happens? Dig the body back up? Not likely. At that point, you will have to be patient and wait for nature to take its course. Depending on the size of the body, this may take weeks or months.

Scavengers: Another concern with burying animals in small back yard is the lure of scavengers. While it may not be very pleasing to think about, that animal you’ve just buried is on the food chain for other critters, and if it isn’t buried deep enough, you can expect something to come and try to dig it up.

If you find yourself in this situation, with a pet that can’t be buried in the back yard, one of your best options is to call a local animal hospital. These places have contacts for cremation and burial purposes. Many times, they can offer your pet’s ashes back to you if you want a keepsake, or you can opt for no ashes back and let the cremation company spread them in a designated place.

Can you throw a dead animal in the garbage?

Throwing a dead animal in the garbage seems like a good idea for many homeowners, and when the animal is small, like a mouse or a chipmunk, most garbage companies won’t put up any fuss. Larger animals, however, are not always appreciated, and it may not be legal to throw away dead animals depending on how urban your living situation is.

Keep in mind: the garbage men have to handle the garbage you throw out to the curb. Putting a sizeable carcass out there, even in a bag, can lure in scavengers that may pose a threat to someone coming to handle the trash. What’s more, the body will start the decomposition process very quickly after death, and if you have to wait a week for the garbage man to come get the trash, that’s a week of odor and decay you’re asking the garbage folks to deal with.

If you do decide to throw away a dead animal, make sure it is triple bagged, or put in a more durable container than your typical trash bag.

A dead animal inside of the home

Dead animal disposal becomes trickier when the body of an animal is inside of your home. If you’re struggling to find the source of a smell within your walls, know that it is possible, but in order to be rid of the odor, you will have to completely remove all the organic material.

Your nose will be your first line of detection for this process. If you can narrow down the search to a single room or an area of the home, the detective work can then begin.

Keep in mind, just because a smell seems strongest in one corner of the kitchen doesn’t necessarily mean that is where the animal is. You will have to take into account air currents in the home, and the path of travel a sick or dying animal takes before it has its final moments.

Good clues to keep in mind are:
• Dying animals will seek out heat: Areas by lights, outlets, heaters, and ducts will be prime places for a critter with a dropping body temperature to go.
• Areas along the base of walls or along support beams are prime locations: Just because an animal can climb vertically doesn’t mean it won’t take the path of least resistance. This means easy-travel areas are the first place to look. At the base of the floor and at the top of the wall is often where bodies can be found. That being said, homes with intense infrastructure may have a number of vertical support boards in the walls, so don’t discount a body being dead center of your living room wall.
• Look for stains: As unfortunate as it is, you may be able to find a dead body in your walls by noticing seepage stains in your drywall. A body that is decomposing is going to liquefy, and dry wall is extremely porous and absorptive.
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