What’s That Smell?

An unpleasant smell is coming from the crawl space under our kitchen sunroom.

I first noticed a hint of it on Wednesday evening but I couldn’t find the source though it seemed strongest in the basement.  Day after day the smell has increased until this morning it is noticeably putrid.  I think something died in there.  But what?

The only access to the crawl space is from inside our basement … unless you’re a mouse …  and that was the last known location of the mouse I couldn’t catch last month.  I thought he was in the heating duct but no, he was probably walking on the heating duct while collecting that pile of pink insulation you see in center of the photo.  That pile is new and unreachable by humans. No wonder he never found the trap I set upstairs.

When my mouse adventures began I put two snap traps in the crawl space but they went untouched for days.  I worried that my cat Emmy (Emmalina) would explore the crawl space so I removed the traps when I became convinced the mouse was inside the ductwork.

Since Thanksgiving I haven’t heard the mouse at all so I thought he was gone.  Dang!  I feel like I flunked Nature Observation.  I made up for my mistake this morning by again installing snap traps in case the mouse has friends.

So now the house smells bad when the furnace runs and my imagination is working overtime.  How long will it take for the smell to go away?  What if that smell is poop and not death?  What if the critter is still alive?  What if it’s a rat?

I have a feeling I’m going to buy way too much anti-rodent gear today.

(photo by Kate St. John)

p.s. That brown spot in front of the insulation is a rock, not a mouse.

5 thoughts on “What’s That Smell?

  1. Hi Kate, sorry about your bad smell. And the thought of dead mouse. We had one pass away in our house when it was new so I speak from Experience.. Just when you think it is unbearable the smell will start to go away and then you realize it is gone. When the house was new not the mouse!!! LOL About a week all told. Hope it is over for you soon.

  2. I don’t know what to say, Kate–they are devious/clever critters. I was thinking of you the other day–I have a mouse running around my BEDROOM and hopefully I’ve got it trapped in one closet where it’s only alternatives besides the 5-6 boxes/bags of wrapping paper, odds and ends already in there on the floor and a coverlet in plastic is either the catch and release trap which contains a little peanut butter or the crawlspace where it may have come from. Several nights ago I just turned out the light and both cats were scuffling about so turned the light back on. They had it cornered in a small alcove in my bedroom behind a tall “cat tree” but the dang thing scurried up the curtains and disappeared. Last night my female jumped off the bed when it was dark and onto a smaller cat tree by the 2 side windows so I turned light back on again and it was ON TOP OF THE WINDOW hiding behind the curtain top. We chased it down and my male ended up with it in his mouth and proceeded out the door and down the steps — HOORAY — NOT — He dropped it, it ran into one of 2 closets in my bedroom. Sooo, I have a cotton shortie stuffed in the bottom of the door so it can’t get back into the room and hope it finds its way out or into the trap.

  3. I thought our mouse problem was over . . . until I heard one of the little rascals scratching around in the wall behind my headboard last night. Looks like I’ll have to get out my friend victor and the peanut butter again.

  4. Hi Kate,

    For a nature enthusiast, I am surprised at your reaction to a mouse. I know they don’t belong in human dwellings (don’t tell the mouse), but frankly, this cute little creature is just doing what it needs to survive. Why not use a live trap? I will lend you mine if you want. Spare a life and some painful agony. I once found the skeleton of a mouse trapped by the tail in an apartment I used to rent. Imagine that death.
    Live trap the mouse with cheese (no matter what people say, cheese works best – much better than peanut butter). Of course, you have to check the trap daily. Once caught, release it far away from your house. Put the trap back. There may be more mice. Now, winter is not the greatest time for mice to be displaced. You could forget about trapping until spring. No real harm. Just maybe more mice to trap later. If you want to do it right, you need to make sure the mouse will be able to find good cover/shelter where you release it. I released my mice (and one rat that liked my compost bin) in remote sections of Frick park in the summer or fall. I dumped a large bunch of sunflower seeds at the release site in the hope that the mouse would get it, stock it and be able to adapt to its new surroundings with a little help. I released siblings at the same site so they can meet again. Given the current cold spell, I would wait until the weather warms up a bit. As soon as possible, you need to find how they get in your house to prevent a recurrence. OK, that’s my take on it.

  5. Well, the catch and release trap had a guest tonight. We let it go out beside our large shed near a small crevice (shed has an old “stall” for an animal, our 2 riding mowers and my son’s canoe are stored in there along with shovels, rakes, etc.\) There it will easily find a way in there for the winter and food too as that’s where we left a little seed for birds who often go through tiny window up near the eaves of the roof and nest in there in winter…

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