Dead Rodent Disposal

Sunday July 15, 2012


Mr Pest Control


What is the correct way to dispose of dead rats? Thank you.

Marcus F., FL

Mr Pest Control


Well, this is actually a really good question, and as usual my answer is not going to be a short one. There are just too many variables here not to cover some of them. The first is that gathering and disposing of dead or dying rodents that are the result of your rodent control work is often MANDATORY - you don't have a choice and must do it because most rodent bait Labels state that you are to do so. If it is on the label then it is the law, and leaving dead rodents behind would be a violation, not to mention must bad customer service. This is one reason that baiting indoors has drawbacks, as rodents very likely will die in an inaccessible place (wall void, far reaches of the attic) and be there for flies to breed in and for odors to develop from. Dead and dying rodents outdoors may be available for other animals to eat, leading to the possibility that secondary poisoning could occur, however unlikely. 

Rodents are also often covered with parasites such as lice, fleas, or ticks, and once the rodent dies these arthropods do not, and will leave the host animal in search of a new host for their blood meals. Removing dead rodents quickly also removes these important parasites, but now we move into the second phase of this answer and that is personal protection. You should always wear washable or disposable gloves when handling rodents to avoid getting their problems onto your skin. When handling snap traps with rodent blood and other remains on it you really would prefer not to touch that material with your bare skin. When working in an area where rodent waste materials are present you also should have long sleeves and a respirator to avoid any skin contact or inhalation of the dust that may come off that surface. A lot of nasty things grow in and on rodent feces and urine. 

Phase 3 of my answer is with respect to the actual disposal of a carcass, and of course we have to keep in mind that animal "cruelty" is a huge consideration with many people. If you have a rodent that is still alive but captured on a glue trap or snap trap it probably should be dispatched / euthanized / humanely killed before you wrap it up and toss it in the garbage. Whether we all agree or not we should have some concern for the suffering of any animal and kill it as quickly as possible when killing is needed. A look at a number of responsible sites, such as university fact sheets on rodent control, placing a dead rat or mouse within a plastic bag that can be sealed closed and thrown in a dumpster that is headed to the local landfill seems to be an acceptable method for disposal. But, you never know what kinds of local ordinances may exist in a community, so it would pay to investigate this before you start any action like this. You may be in a city or county that requires that all dead rodents be buried or taken to the local shelter for incineration. 

Burying dead rodents is also often recommended, but one concern here is that other animals may dig up that rodent and either eat it or leave it exposed on the ground. To minimize this possibility you may want to bury that animal at least 2 feet deep, and now we are talking about a lot of work, and you either aren't going to go to that much trouble or you are going to accumulate a lot of dead rodents so you can do them all at once, neither of which is a good idea. Enclosing in a sealed plastic bag and disposing of in a trash can or dumpster that will be emptied for removal to a sanitary landfill very soon is the best idea if there are no local taboos against it. Generally speaking, dead rodents and their waste materials are NOT considered to be "toxic" or hazardous wastes. 

Mr. Pest Control

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Please note, Mr. Pest Control is answering questions supplied by PMP customers across North America. His answers are generated from industry and manufacturer-provided information. The answer may not be specific to the laws and regulations for your State, Province, Territory or Country. In addition, products mentioned may not be registered and or available in all areas. Always check with your local Univar office for specific information to your area. Always read and follow label directions.