If Your House Smells Like This Food, You May Have Mice, Experts Say

This one common cooking scent could tip you off to a serious problem.

As the weather gets cooler, you may be spending more time indoors than you did during the year's more temperate months. And while the thought of breaking out your fuzzy slippers or curling up in front of the fire with a good book may seem appealing, you may not be the only one who thinks your house looks like a particularly cozy place to settle down for the winter.

Mice frequently make themselves comfortable in homes as the temperature dips, and experts say there's one particular food scent that could tip you off to their presence. Read on to find out which smell could indicate an infestation and what to do if you notice it in your home.

RELATED: 6 Things in Your Yard That Are Bringing Mice to Your Home.

If you notice the smell of fish, you may have mice.

young woman looking in fridge holding nose

Many people know the unmistakable scent of a dead mouse somewhere in their home; the noxious smell can announce its presence from rooms away. However, pest control experts say there's yet another, more surprising odor to watch out for in your home that could tip you off to a mouse problem: fish.

"Mice and rats gnaw stuff—from paper and cardboard to furniture and wires," says Ryan Smith, owner of Ant and Garden Organic Pest Control. "A weird fishy, burning scent in your home is almost always associated with faulty electrical components like wires."

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A fish smell could tip you off to a serious fire hazard, too.

outlet on fire

While encountering the overwhelming smell of fish in any part of your home is unpleasant and finding out that you may have a mouse problem is undeniably stressful, that awful odor may tip you off to an even bigger problem.

"Electrical components often give off this smell when overheated, and 90 percent of the time this odor is a sign of a serious electrical issue," according to Rytec Electric, LLC. When the plastic and heat-resistant chemicals surrounding your electrical wires heat up significantly, they often give off this unpleasant scent.

If you smell fish that's not associated with cooking, call in experts.

young electrician installing outlet

When you notice a pervasive fish smell in your home that's not related to anything you've recently cooked or thrown away, it's time to call a professional for help. "Treating a rodent infestation should be performed immediately because these pests are a fire hazard," says Smith.

In addition to calling a pest management specialist, the experts at Rytec Electric also recommend calling both an electrician and 911 if the smell is particularly strong.

The scent of a common cleaning chemical may be an indication of a rodent problem, too.

Cleaning supplies to disinfect house

While you may think you can easily identify the smell of something that has died in your walls, experts say that it's not just the scent of decay you have to watch out for.

"A rodent will announce its death through a foul rotten odor similar to the smell of toxic gases, like methane and ammonia," says Smith, who notes that this scent may stick around for up to two weeks until the body has sufficiently dried up.

A musky scent may tip you off to a different type of rodent infestation.

rat eating chickpea outdoors
Shutterstock / Hung Chung Chih

While the scent of fish may alert you to rodents causing electrical issues in your home, that's not the only odor that can tip you off to a problem lurking in your walls.

"One sign of rat infestation is a foul odor, which is pungent and musky. Aside from their natural body odor, their droppings and urine also contribute to it," says Smith.

Checking for foul scents in certain parts of your home may help you identify a problem faster. "This stench is especially evident in enclosed spaces, such as cupboards, your basement, or the garage," says Smith.

RELATED: If You Notice This Smell at Home, You May Have Mice, Experts Warn.


Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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