Dead Animal in the Chimney?
If you hear rustling sounds coming from your fireplace there’s a good chance that a wild critter has taken up residence in the chimney. Many small and medium-size animals take to chimney living because the space is dark, warm, dry, and safe from predators, providing shelter that often beats that available to them in the wild. But if the noise suddenly stops, it may mean that the animal may have become trapped, couldn’t work free, and died. Foul smells beginning within a couple of days can confirm it.
Having a dead animal in your chimney is a situation that calls for a solution, since the resulting stench can permeate walls, lasting for months. Moreover, the decaying corpse can pass along diseases that can affect both your family and our pets. So it’s important to locate and remove the carcass as soon as possible and to dispose of it in keeping with local regulations.
Depending on the location of the dead animal you may be able to solve the problem yourself. If it is located behind the flue door or on the little shelf that is typically behind it, you may be able to reach in and drag it out, then spray the area with insecticide, disinfectant or both. Failing that approach, you can start fire and let it burn hot for a while, effectively mummifying the dead creature while at the same time directing the foul odors away from the living area and up the chimney.
You can also try snagging the animal from above, reaching down with a pole and hook assembly or lowering a length of barb wire down the chimney and twisting it until it entangles the dead animal, then lifting it out.
Depending on the complexity of the problem, you might be best advised to call in an animal removal expert. The pros are familiar with the problem and have both the experience and equipment to locate the dead animal, extract it, and perform follow-up activities such as clean-up and disinfection, closure of points of entry and disposal of the carcass.
Importantly, if you decide to do it yourself, first check on the regulations regarding carcass disposal. For example, you should always bury it at least two feet underground and 100-200 feet away from any water source, whether stream, pond or reservoir. And always take precautions in handling the dead animal, including the use of latex gloves, protective clothing and if possible, a breathing mask. In short, do what the professionals do.
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