Lizards, Snakes and/or other Reptiles die of many causes, including infectious diseases. Finding a dead snake, lizard, or any other reptile, whether in a road traffic accident or in your backyard, can be a traumatic experience.
If you have found a dead reptile or you you have come back from work one day and discovered one of your pet reptiles is dead, I suggest you read this article to find out more about what to do next.
What to do with a dead reptile?
- Take it away from other live reptile [if you have any left]
- Bury it in your garden
- Bury it in a pet cemetery
- Cremation is also an option
- Take it to the local vet and ask him to dispose of it
Below we expand on what to do with the dead reptiles. We also provide information on how much it would cost to cremate your reptile, how much would it cost to bury your reptile, what to do if you have found a dead reptile, and much more on that note.
What To Do With A Dead Reptile?
Unfortunately, it is common for pet reptiles such as bearded dragons, leopard geckos, snakes, chameleons, iguanas, turtles, etc. to die if not properly taken care of. Knowing what to do with a deceased reptile is essential especially if you own other reptiles and they happen to share the same cage.
Below we describe the various steps to take:
1. Take It Away From Other Live Reptiles You May Have Left
If you have numerous reptiles and one of them passes away suddenly and you have no idea why that actually happened, it is very important that you take it away from other live reptiles you may have left in order to protect the remaining reptiles from any spreading or harmful disease.
Parasitic infestations is a disease that occurs in most pet reptiles, especially in wild-caught reptiles. While the disease can be treated easily, it is important that you pay close attention to your pet’s behavior and identify the disease in its early stages. It is not unheard of to see pet reptiles die suddenly due to parasites, which is why I believe it is very important to remove the death animal from the cage as soon as possible to avoid spreading the disease to other animals.
2. Bury It In Your Backyard
If the law in your state or country allows you to bury your pet in your backyard, than all you have to do is wrap him/her in a hand towel, lace him in a shoe box, go outside and dig a 4-feet hole and bury him there. If you don’t feel comfortable with burying your reptile in your backyard, don’t worry as there are other options as well.
If you do prefer burying your reptile in your backyard, ensure 3-4 feet deep. This is to ensure that your dog won’t smell and dig up the body. And very important, make sure you check with your city before you do so as certain cities have rules and regulations on home pet burial.
3. Bury It In A Pet Cemetery
You can either search for pet cemeteries in your area or you can search for human cemeteries that have a section for pets. Yes, we do have human cemeteries that have a section for pets. Burial provides a permanent place for you to visit and honor your reptile. Prices for burial in a pet cemetery will depend on the size of the animal, but as a general rule, expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $120 for a normal size lizard.
4. Cremation Is Also An Option
Cremation allows your reptile to return to her or his natural state more quickly. In fact, according to a study by TheGuardian, most people choose cremation over burial.
You can simply spread the ashes at the park or your backyard. Keeping the ashes at home is also an option if you’re interested in that, but that means you should count the cost of a pet urn as well.
When discussing cremation, you may hear the terms communal cremation and private cremation:
- Communal Cremation: Communal Cremation means that your reptile will be cremated at the same time as other reptiles/pets. Therefore, if you want to cremate your reptile and get the ashes back to spread it in your garden or keep it in your home, you should know that you can’t get your reptile’s ashes back if you go for communal cremation. Due to obvious reasons, this is the cheapest option between the two of them and you should pay anywhere between $20 to $60 for a normal size reptile.
- Private Cremation: Private cremation means that your reptile will be cremated individually in a cremation chamber, which allows you to get your reptile’s ashes back if that’s what you intend to do. The ashes are usually returned to you in a standard wooden box urn or a plastic bag, but you can also pick a custom pet urn from your cremation parlor. However, you should expect to pay more money for a custom pet urn and the selection will definitely be more limited to those you can find on the web. Private cremation costs anywhere between $100 and $1,000 depending on the size of the reptile and the type of urn or memorial you pick out.
5. Ask The Local Vet To Dispose Of Him/Her
If you feel like you don’t want to do any of the above, maybe the best option for you is to take your dead reptile to a local veterinarian and ask him/her to dispose of the body.
Regardless of what you do, please make sure you have a veterinarian check your reptile’s dead body to ensure that whatever killed your reptile has not spread and no one is at risk.
What To Do If You Find A Dead Reptile?
If you have found a dead reptile in a traffic road accident or in your garden or ground, than I suggest you follow these 5 steps:
- Move the reptile to safety or off the road and place it in a plastic bag.
- Search for local vets in your area and take the dead reptile to a vet. Place it in a plastic bag, box or old blanket or clothing. If you have reptiles at home, make sure you don’t get the dead one near any of your reptile as you may be at risk of spreading the disease to your live reptiles.
- The vet will then be able to scan the reptile for a chip [some owners choose to chip their snakes, lizards, etc] and contact the owner. If the reptile is not chipped, the vet will dispose of it as they do with all pets that are brought to them. These are usually cremated in a cremation chamber.
- If you’re unable to contact or visit any vet in your area, you can report any dead reptile you find on the road or on your property to the local council, where they often have dead animal removal services.
How To Tell If A Reptile Is Playing Dead?
The most basic way to check whether or not a reptile is dead or playing dead is by checking their breath. But this is not possible every time. If for example, you find a rattlesnake on the road and you’re not sure if it’s dead or not, I highly suggest you don’t try to check if he/she is breathing or not.
A safer method to check is by taking a stick and tap its abdomen a bit. Any living animal should try to escape it once they feel something touching their abdomen.
But honestly, there’s not 100% reliable way to verify death in reptiles unless the reptile is decapitated. As a general rule, most vets will wait up to 12 to 24 hours before declaring a reptile dead and releasing the body. Therefore, if you’re not sure whether or not your reptile or a reptile you’ve found on the road is dead, take it to a vet immediately and let them do their job.