What to Do with a Dead Squirrel in My Backyard?

what to do with a dead squirrel

Whether you’re a squirrel lover or you consider these furry rodents as backyard pests, waking up to find a dead squirrel in your yard isn’t something most people are excited to come across. If you’re dealing with the same situation, you might be wondering what to do with a dead squirrel in your yard. Should you throw it out, call animal services, or try disposing of it yourself?

The most important thing to do if you come across a dead squirrel is remember not touch it with your bare hands. Make sure to wear protective gloves, then place the squirrel in a secure plastic bag. Lastly, wash down the area where you found the dead squirrel to prevent the spread of disease.

Finding a dead animal on your property can be, and often is, a nasty ordeal. While disposing of a dead squirrel is a pretty straightforward process, there are a few important things you need to watch out for, as well as tips that can help keep you and your family safe during the process.

In the sections below we’re going to cover all of this and more, so definitely check that out.

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

You can never be too careful around a dead animal. You don’t know how it died or what what diseases it may be carrying.

When disposing of a dead squirrel, you’ll want to carefully pick it up with a shovel such as the Fiskars PRO Shovel (available on Amazon) to keep it as far away from your body as possible.

How Do Squirrels Usually Die?

Squirrels are interesting creatures that belong to the same order as rats and mice. That means they are rodents. Depending on the species, their lifespan varies dramatically. According to a study comparing aging among different rodent species, squirrels can actually live for up to 24 years – longer than a cat or dog could. However, being prey animals, they don’t usually last that long in the wild.

If you find one into their adulthood, it rarely dies of natural causes like “old age.” Those in the wild that are able to survive past one year old can reach their sixth year. The luckier ones can reach a maximum of 12 years avoiding predators successfully.

Why Would A Squirrel Suddenly Die?

So if a squirrel is able to live that long, how does one end up dead in your property? There are several reasons why a squirrel could suddenly die. One, it may have been a meal from a hawk, which dropped it to the ground for some reason.

Rat poison can also be a culprit. You or your neighbor might be dealing with rat and mice problems and decided to put out poison. Here comes an innocent squirrel rummaging through the area and ended up eating the poison.

It could also be that a squirrel missed a landing and ended up on the ground, in front of a dog or cat. They can easily become a plaything for them, injuring them in the process. Another reason for sudden death in squirrel is trauma caused by falling. A squirrel is great at climbing, how could it fall and die, you ask? We will get to that in the next section.

Can Squirrels Fall Out Of Trees And Die?

Squirrels may die when they fall out of trees but that depends on where they fell or how high it was. The thing is if a squirrel gets knocked down from high above the ground, then it falls far enough to kill it.

You may think squirrels are very agile animals because you can observe them scampering about. They are also good at jumping from tree to tree. However, they, too, can make mistakes and miss their landing, which will result in a fall. In the process, a squirrel can get hurt. Depending on how high it was falling from, death may likely occur.

Alternatively, they could also survive a fall since they can quickly react and change position to be able to land better. And according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, fatal falls are actually rare. They might have their bushy tails to thank for.

What Do You Do If You Find A Dead Squirrel?

So now you’ve found a dead squirrel, what should you do? In this section, we will discuss tips on what you can do should you find a squirrel in your yard.

Why Is There A Dead Squirrel In My Yard?

It’s common for homeowners to be surprised to find a deceased animal in their yard. For the reasons mentioned above, squirrels can end up in your property. There are also instances where you will find a dead squirrel that looks normally plump and healthy and you’d wonder how it died.

Poison is a possible culprit, and sickness is also likely but you can tell if the squirrel had been sick if they appear to be thin or missing some fur. Whatever it is, if you woke up or come home to a dead squirrel on your yard, there are possible ways to deal with it and we will discuss them in the next section.

What Do You Do With A Dead Squirrel In Your Yard?

Before we mention the possible methods of dealing with a dead squirrel, the most important thing to remember is to keep your hands off. As mentioned, it’s best to avoid touching the dead squirrel because you never know what hit them. They could be infected with a disease and died from it and touching them would mean you will pass on the disease to your pets or even catch it yourself.

Keep pets away from a dead squirrel. They could be tempting for your cats or dogs but the little critters may have been poisoned. That said, you don’t want to risk injury to your pets by letting them sniff the squirrel or touch it with their mouths.

Below are some of the methods of removing a dead squirrel from your yard that have been tried by many homeowners:

  • Scooping and throwing it in the trash
  • Burying it
  • Calling the sanitation services

Scooping And Throwing the Squirrel In The Trash

With gloves on your hand, take a shovel and scoop up the dead squirrel and dump it in a plastic bag, still with your gloves on. Make sure to use a long-hand shovel, such as the Fiskars 397900-1001 PRO Shovel.

Put the bag in a second one and tie it off to seal it properly. Then you can throw it in the outdoor trash. And of course, don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly after.

Burying It

If you would like a more natural approach, you can scoop the squirrel, bury it somewhere in your yard and let the decomposers do their job. Dig a little shallow grave for the critter. For some people, saying a little prayer and giving a proper send-off is something that they feel they need to do. If this floats your boat, go for it.

Calling Animal Pick-up Services

You might be wondering who picks up dead squirrels? It’s worth noting that the animal control is not in charge of picking up dead squirrels from your property. At least the Los Angeles Animal Services made it clear that the Bureau of Sanitation will take responsibility for removing dead critters.

Depending on where you live, though, you can call the local animal services and ask if they can pick up and dispose of the dead squirrel in your yard. If not, you can always call the sanitation services and they will do it for you for free. Another option is to call a professional wildlife removal services.

Can I Throw Away A Dead Squirrel?

Since one of the recommended methods of removing a dead squirrel is by throwing it, then yes, it is acceptable to throw the carcass away. Just make sure you make an effort to properly seal the plastic bag you put the squirrel in.

Is It Illegal To Put A Dead Squirrel In The Garbage?

This is one of the common questions that homeowners like to ask. After all, it seems inconsiderate to have the garbage collector handle a dead animal. However, it is not illegal to throw a dead squirrel in the garbage.

On the contrary, it is recommended that you throw a small dead animal in the trash as long as you place them first in heavy-duty bags, such as Ultrasac Contractor Bags, which are made for such a purpose.

Squirrels Inside Your Home

The smell of a dead creature will be of concern if it happens inside the home, rather than in your yard. And yes, squirrels can also end up in your home, specifically in the attic. This is where they usually take shelter from winter or even build a nest and start a family.

If that happens, your house could be in trouble if you don’t act fast. Because they’re rodents, they can chew on wires and boards and make a mess in the attic. Worse, if one or some of them die in there, your attic will start to smell horrible.

How Long Does The Smell Of A Dead Squirrel Last?

It can take two weeks for the squirrel to decompose completely. This means you’ll have to endure two weeks of horrible smell if you won’t get rid of the body. If a squirrel died within the walls of your attic, then you may need to contact a professional to tear down the wall and remove the carcass.

Of course, having professional services to take care of the removal can be costly, which is why some homeowners would not go for this option. Instead, they let the decomposition process take over and wait it out until it dissipates on its own.

How Do You Get Rid Of Dead Squirrel Smell?

The best approach to get rid of the dead squirrel smell is to do your best to locate the dead body and remove it, with or without the help of professionals. If locating the body and getting professional services won’t be practical for you, then it’s time to consider deodorizers.

Below are some tips on how you can address the smell of dead squirrel in your home:

  • Vinegar  – fill several cups with vinegar and place it in strategic locations in your attic. The vinegar works by absorbing the odor.
  • Coffee grounds – if you’re a coffee lover don’t just throw away those coffee grounds. They can be used as a deodorizer as well.
  • Baking soda – this has been tried and tested as an excellent odor eliminator. Make a baking soda and water solution and spray it anywhere in the affected area. You have to do this several times a day for effectiveness.
  • Commercial deodorizers – of course, you can always buy ones that are formulated to be both an odor eliminator and a fragrance pouch. A bonus is that they’re usable, like this Smelleze Dead Animal Smell Removal Deodorizer

What Happens If You Touch A Dead Squirrel?

Squirrels may be cute but they can be carriers of numerous diseases. However, only few can be considered dangerous to humans. Still, you should be careful about touching dead squirrel, especially if you found them on your property.

Tularemia is one disease that you could get from touching sick or dead squirrels. Sometimes called “rabbit fever,” this disease is commonly found in small animals like squirrels and other rodent species. 

The bacteria F. tularensis can linger on a dead animal for weeks and can infect humans in several ways. In the case of handling a dead animal, the bacteria may enter through small cuts and abrasions on your skin. For this very reason, wearing gloves while touching a dead squirrel is vital.

Conclusion: What To Do With a Dead Squirrel

While finding a dead squirrel in your property is quite common, it’s never a pleasant thing to deal with. Fortunately, there are different things you can do to remove a dead squirrel. The most common approach is to scoop it up, double bag it and place it in the trash.

Whatever approach you want to use on a dead animal, whether you found a dead chipmunk, squirrel or a rat, just make sure to observe sanitary practices, such as wearing gloves and washing your hands thoroughly after disposal.

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