How long does it take for a rat to decompose?

Rats – not the ideal rodent to find invading your trash cans and garden waste! Unfortunately, you’ve found one, and not as a pet. This rat is very much not alive any longer, and has started creating a ghastly smell in your space.

The smell of decomposing rats can be truly horrifying to the senses, so you’ll want to get it out of your home soon for that reason if not because you don’t want a decomposing creature in your home.

Without further ado, here’s how long it takes for a rat to decompose. 

How Long Does It Take for a Rat to Decompose?

This question is a little difficult to answer, because the short answer is that it varies. Rat decomposition rates can depend on the kind of rat, the external temperature and the size of the rat, alongside other variables.

In general though, it will take around three weeks or so to completely decompose, but it will take less time if it is hot outside. 

The biggest issue when it comes to decomposing rats is the fact that they can smell extremely badly, and that smell can actually last for more than two weeks once the body has decomposed. 

What’s the Problem with Dead Rats? 

You may be wondering whether you can just keep the dead rats where you found them. This is not something that is highly recommended, as having dead rats lying around can cause a lot of problems.

As we’ve mentioned already, the smell that dead rats emit is perhaps the biggest issue. Every single day the putrid smell will get stronger until you get rid of the rat.

It’s not just about the smell either – the smell can actually make it difficult to exist in your living conditions because you can get headaches and as a whole it’s not a fun experience. 

Dead rats can also be quite dangerous for your health. Decomposing rats can be almost like a magnet for flies, which can then create maggots that will cause even more problems in your home.

Parasites that grow on dead animals will also want to find another living target, and you may find that they could choose you or your pets for that role.

In addition, dead rats can carry some dangerous diseases and bacteria that can manifest in the air and cause further health issues.

Proper disposal is thus essential. If you don’t dispose of the rat correctly, you may end up getting infected from contact with the rat.

Make sure that you have the right tools for the job if you are looking to remove a rat carcass from your home or establishment.

Should You Compost a Rat?

The short answer: No. As we’ve already mentioned above, rats can carry diseases. Furthermore, one dead rat may attract other rats. Ultimately, it’s a recipe for disaster that is better off avoided. Instead, you should follow the proper safety procedures for disposing of a decomposing rat. 

How to Dispose of a Decomposing Rat

Disposing of a decomposing rat in the correct manner is extremely important and requires great care and the right tools. To start with, you will need to ensure that you have at least the following tools:

  • A plastic bag
  • A trash bag
  • Respirator or dust filter mask
  • Protective clothing and gloves

Once you have got all of this gear together, it is time to dispose of the rat. First, put the mask and the protective gear on. Once you have done this, carefully put the rat into the plastic bag and then seal it tight.

You will then need to put that bag into another trash bag and then tie it tightly. You may think that this is a little bit excessive but it’s better to be excessive and safe! 

In some circumstances it may be possible to throw the rat straight into your trash bin, but there are certain cities and states that have specific rules about how you need to get rid of dead animals.

In this case you would probably be better suited to contacting a pest control company or your local animal control service. 

One other issue that can arise here is that rats don’t always die out in the open. Sometimes, they will die in more difficult areas such as in your attic or walls.

If this is the case in your home, then you will likely need to speak to a professional rodent control specialist who will be able to find where the rat is located and then remove it accordingly.

How to Remove Dead Rat Smell From Your House

Once you have gotten rid of the intruder in your home, it is then time to get rid of the putrid smell that they have left in their wake. To do this, don a pair of rubber gloves, some expendable clothing and a nose mask.

You will then need to create a solution consisting of around 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water. 

Once you have done this, spray the bleach and water solution all over the area that was infected. Once you have done this, wipe the area down using paper towels.

Make sure that you get rid of any prints, marks or any droppings. You should then put the used paper towels into a tightly sealed garbage bag. Repeat this process as needed until the smell is gone.

Once you have done all of this, make sure that you get rid of any of the gloves and clothes you are working with, and thoroughly wash yourself down to get rid of any contamination.


Rats are one of the biggest nuisances that can affect your home and garden, but with a little bit of work it is certainly possible to say goodbye to them so they no longer affect your living spaces.

It is important though that they are disposed of correctly, and that you always follow the proper safety procedures and the correct preventative measures to ensure that they no longer encroach on your life.

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