What Should You Do with a Dead Reptile Pet?

First you may want to take the body to a vet for necropsy so you can learn the cause of death. After that, you can decide to bury or cremate the deceased pet. Alternatively, you can return their body to the breeder or seller in case they died over the first few weeks of acquisition.  

But wait, how can you verify that your pet is actually deceased? Some reptile pets like bearded dragons sometimes play dead when stressed or frightened by perceived predators. Moreover severe sickness sometimes leads reptiles to appear dead.

On top of this, some physiological reptile body processes such as brumation and shedding bear common symptoms. If you can’t rule out these possibilities to determine whether your pet is dead, vesting a reliable reptile vet will demystify the mystery.

How to Dispose a Dead Reptile?

We can all agree that a beloved reptile companion, like any other pet, deserves a befitting send-off regardless of the cause of their death. They’ve been a close and valuable companion for some time you must have grown fond of each other’s company for some time.

Besides, most reptile pets need plenty of care and monitoring, particularly if you adopt them in their early days. Thus, it’s normal to grow attached to your reptile although it makes after-life arrangements more stressful.

Nonetheless, it’s best to prepared for the eventuality early in advance. Besides, disposing dead pets’ bodies hygienically helps to protect the health and lives of humans, livestock, and other animals.

Carcasses sometimes harbor bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens that could contaminate water sources and affect living organisms directly and adversely.

Let’s take a closer look at the options on your hands:

1. Take them to a Reptile Vet for Necropsy

Necropsy is a surgical examination in which a vet surgeon opens up a dead pet’s body to try and establish the possible cause of death.

It’s common among enthusiastic pet owners who like knowing what sent their deceased animal companions to their grave.

Possibly the best thing about a necropsy procedure is that it can help you to save other pets from untimely death.

In some cases, it reveals the precise health complications that resulted to the pet’s demise. Thus, necropsy can point out underlying complexities that you should resolve speedily to reduce similar fatalities.     

However, one major drawback of necropsy procedures is that there’s no guarantee you’ll learn the precise reason your pet expired.

Moreover, it’s a costly undertaking and you still have to make final resting arrangements for the carcass.

2. Burial

Oftentimes, pet owners choose to send off their deceased reptiles via burial for many reasons. It’s not only cost-effective and eco-friendly but also convenient in many ways.

It would be nice to have something tangible to remind you of your beloved reptile pet and mark their final resting spot.

Burial enables you to achieve both purposes, especially if you have a yard to lay them to rest them and then erect a gravestone or plant a plant as a memorial monument.

However, burying carcasses can release potentially harmful bacteria and other pathogens into the environment. Thus, you’re required to follow strict guidelines that include: 

  • Ascertain that the local law and authorities allow you to bury your dead reptile pet at your select spot
  • Select a burial spot that will allow the pet’s body to decompose naturally and completely without being disturbed
  • Dig out a burial pit that’s deep enough to prevent scavengers from picking up the smell and digging out your pet’s carcass after burial. Ensure the hole is sufficiently deep such that even severe environmental elements like rainstorms won’t erode away the soil to reveal the carcass
  • In case you opt to use a pet casket, choose a biodegradable (wooden cardboard or other material) burial box that will decay along with the carcass. Plastic and other non-biodegradable caskets pollute the environment via clogging and releasing toxins   
  • In case you have no space, permission, or willingness to bury your deceased pet yourself, pet cemeteries often offer first-rate pet burial services. Alternatively, your reptile pet vet can advise on other available burial options for your reptile friend

3. Cremation

With the rising popularity of pet cremation, reptile pet owners are increasingly embracing the practice to give their deceased animal friends dignified send offs.

If you decide on this option, your pet vet can point you in the right direction.  Alternatively, hit up Google or consult the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories for guidance and a catalog of reptile pet crematoriums in your locality.

There’s more: Pet owners who choose cremation generally have two options- communal or individual cremation.

Communal Cremation

In communal cremation, your deceased reptile pet is cremated along with other similar animals. Afterward, the ashes are either dispersed on the crematorium grounds or placed in a communal pet memorial center.

Possibly the best part of communal cremations is their relatively cheap cost compared to individual cremations. Some even offer free services.

Further, some pet owners choose communal cremation so their deceased animals can have ‘some company’ on their final journey.

Nevertheless, the major downside of communal cremation is that you don’t receive your dead pet’s ashes. While this is convenient to some, it’s a huge put off to pet owners who love holding on to their animal companion’s ashes and memories.

Individual Cremation

In individual cremation, your deceased reptile is cremated separately in a clean chamber. Afterward, you receive the ashes to store in an urn, scatter away, or bury in a convenient spot.

Despite being more costly than communal cremation, individual cremation presents heightened respect to your dead pet.

Along with this, there’s a wide selection of type, size, and cost of urns to choose for your pet’s ashes.

4. Returning the Body to the Breeder or Seller

In some cases, reptile pets die untimely deaths for inexplicable reasons. If you’re convinced your negligence isn’t the cause of the demise, consider talking to your pet breeder or seller about returning the body to their facility.

Although it might feel and look awkward, returning a prematurely dead reptile pet to their breeder is potentially beneficial.

Most reputable pet providers understand these situations and could be compassionate enough to offer you refund or allow you to choose another pet freely.

At the least, a reliable reptile pet breeder or seller should understand your frustration and discount your next purchase.

After all, they might have been genuinely unaware of the deceased pet’s underlying health issues. Remember, captive reptiles are mighty difficult to understand completely.

On the contrary, the pet breeder might write off your premature reptile pet’s death as a natural and unavoidable occurrence.

In case they show lack of sympathy and are unwilling to offer any help, it could be an indication of their unreliability in breeding, nursing, and selling pets.

Conclusion: What should you do with a Dead Reptile Pet?

It’s great to learn that reptile pets are unique and fascinating on several counts. They’re not only friendly but also therapeutic to interact with and generally live a substantial number of years. Better yet, there’s a staggering choice of reptile pets, breeds, and species for any enthusiastic pet owner.    

However, there’s no denying that your reptile friend’s life will eventually terminate sooner or later.

Old age, disease, mishandling, undernourishment, egg-binding and parasitic attacks can lead to the death of a pet. When that happens, it’s best that you be prepared to give your reptile friend a decent farewell.

But it doesn’t end there. Letting go a close animal companion is a painful ordeal to the pet owner.

Still, planning your pet’s final send-off early in advance can help you to mourn their demise properly when they eventually expire.

In most cases, burial and cremation are the preferred methods of sending pet reptiles on their final journey.

Then again, you can decide to schedule a necropsy procedure to determine the probable cause of death or return the deceased pet to their breeder.

This is important: While making plans for your deceased pet’s final resting, ensure you understand and comply with all local policies, laws, and regulations governing the disposal of reptile pets’ carcasses.

In addition to preventing legal scuffles such as arrests and litigation, hygienic reptile pet disposal protects the environment from contamination. In turn, the clean environment offers better grounds for human, plant, and animal life to thrive.

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