Smell

Mouse

Mouse infestations leave an unpleasant musty soiled smell that is caused by acetate in their droppings and urine.

Can be confused with:
May be confused with rat infestations, but the size of the droppings will be much larger for rats.

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Ship Rat

Areas with rodent infestations (such as sheds or food storage buildings) have a very distinctive and unpleasant musty smell.

Can be confused with:
The smell of ship rats may be confused with the smell of other rodent species, including mice. It is difficult to distinguish what species is present by smell alone.

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Possum

Possums have multiple scent glands including a red-brown gland on the chest between the front legs (sternal), near their bottoms and in the pouch region. They commonly rub these glands on the bases of tree trunks, or mix the scent with urine or droppings, to mark territory. They can release different scents when scared or handled, and will often release urine or droppings too.


The sternal gland on the chest has a sweetish musky odour. One pair of anal (bottom) glands contain a white substance with a penetrating acid smell rather like pickled onions. A second pair of anal glands secrete cells suspended in a clear viscid fluid, but have no distinctive odour.

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Bennett's (red-necked) wallaby

Bennett’s wallabies have a good sense of smell and use scent marking to communicate with other wallabies. The male wallaby has scent glands on its chest. However, no information could be found on what they smell like.

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Goat

A pungent smell is produced from the subcaudal glands of alarmed or rutting males. It is fairly distinctive and can be described as a stale milk/urine smell.

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Himalayan Tahr (thar)

Bull tahrs have scent glands under the tail that give off a strong musky smell, especially in the breeding season (May to July in New Zealand). The urine of bulls is also pungent during this time.

Can be confused with:

Chamois bucks and red deer stags also have pungent smelling urine during the breeding season.

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Sika deer

Recently used sika deer wallows can have a strong musky smell, because stags urinate and defecate in them.

Can be confused with:
The wallows of other deer species and pigs have a similar look and smell to those of sika deer.

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White-tailed deer

During the rut, male white-tailed deer sometimes undertake scent marking in areas where they have been bark rubbing or creating scrapes. This can leave a musky smell.

Can be confused with:
The smell of white-tailed deer can be confused with the smell of other deer species and pigs.

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Sambar deer

Sambar deer have prominent scent glands above their eye sockets (preorbital) that secrete a strong-musk smelling substance. Males (stags) will mark their territories by rubbing secretions on to trees and shrubs.

Can be confused with:
The smell of sambar deer is similar to that of other deer species.

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Red deer

Red deer have a distinctive musky smell that can be strong smelling to humans when the animals are wet. Stags also have a distinctive odour during the rut from urinating on themselves and wallowing.

Can be confused with:
The smell of other deer species.

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Wapiti

Wapiti have a distinctive musky smell that can be strong-smelling to humans when the animals are wet. Bulls also create a distinctive odour during the rut by urinating on themselves and wallowing in damp hollows containing faeces and urine.

Can be confused with:

The smell of wapiti can be confused with the smell of other deer species – especially red deer because wapiti and red deer cross-breed.

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Pig

Pigs can smell strongly of urine.

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Hedgehog

Hedgehogs do not have scent glands like ferrets, and generally produce very little odour, but they do have a characteristic smell. Younger hedgehogs and pregnant/nursing females also tend to have much stronger scented urine and droppings.

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Cat

Cats communicate through scent in urine, droppings, and chemicals or pheromones from glands located around the mouth, chin, forehead, cheeks, lower back, tail and paws. Their rubbing and head-bumping behaviors are methods of depositing these scents on substrates, including humans.

Cat urine and tomcat smell are very strong and noticeable to humans. Although cats may mark with both sprayed and non-sprayed urine, the spray is usually more thick and oily than normally deposited urine, and may contain additional secretions from anal sacs that help the sprayer to make a stronger communication. Cat urine, especially that of male cats, contains the putative cat pheromone 3-mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol (MMB), a compound that gives cat urine its typical odour, including a strong sulphurous smell. Rats and mice are highly adverse to the odour of a cat's urine, but after infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, they are attracted by it, highly increasing the likelihood of being preyed upon and of infecting the cat.

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Weasel

Muscular anal glands occur under a weasel’s tail, and contain sulphurous volatiles (rotten egg smell) and other compounds. The smell and chemical composition of these chemicals are distinct from those of the stoat.

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Stoat

Stoats have large anal scent glands. When attacked or being aggressive stoats release a strong musky odour.

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Ferret

Ferrets have anal glands under the tail which produce a strong musk smell.

Can be confused with:
Stoats also have anal sacs and are capable of producing a musk smell.

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