What To Do With A Dead Tortoise? [Video Guide]

When it comes to tortoises, no matter how long they live, you still need to be prepared. However, wallowing in grief for more than two or three days after the death of your tortoise should be avoided. In order to dispose of the body in a proper and timely manner, it is recommended that you do so.

Your tortoise can be buried in the backyard or a pet cemetery, or it can be cremated. The ashes can either be returned to you or disposed of by the crematorium, depending on your wishes.

Cremation is a more expensive option, but some owners may find it easier to deal with the loss.

A tortoise’s shell can be preserved when buried, or it can decompose naturally. Place something heavy on the grave to prevent wild animals from digging it up. Bury the body at a depth of three to four feet. You have three options if you choose to cremate the tortoise.

From $40 to $350, additional services like pick-up, viewing rooms, and urns are available.

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What To Do With A Dead Tortoise

Within two to three days of your tortoise’s death, you should take care of its remains. To make matters worse, as time goes on, the body will decompose even more in the open air.

Rotten corpses can spread disease and attract bugs, making the area unclean for other animals.

As a result of the strong and unpleasant odor, predators may gather. Consequently, you should move the corpse to a location where wild animals cannot get to it.

Protective gloves are essential when handling a dead animal. If you come into contact with the body without gloves, use antibacterial soap to clean your hands.

Then you can decide how best to bury your pet.

There are two ways to properly dispose of a deceased tortoise: burial or cremation. This is based on your personal preferences, financial resources, and time constraints. Take a few precautions before you get started:

  • Looking To See If It’s Brumatizing

Find out if the tortoise has died and is not snoozing at this time. In cold weather, tortoises can fall into a deep sleep and appear to be dead.

When your tortoise dies, you’ll know it because it won’t:

  • Respond to any touching or prodding
  • Wake up after you increase the temperatures to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Move around
  • Pass waste
  • Make any sounds

If the tortoise starts to stink and rot, it’s most likely dead at this point. Even so, it’s always a good idea to double-check with your veterinarian just to be safe.

Even when the tortoise is still alive, certain infections (bacteria or fungi) can produce an unpleasant odor. In theory, they shouldn’t smell like rotting animal carcasses, but it never hurts to check just in case.

  • Consultation with a Veterinarian Regarding Pithing

All reptiles, including tortoises, should be pithed before burial or cremation, according to the Companion Animal This is done by piercing the tortoise’s brain to ensure that all brain activity has ceased..

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Tortoises can become non-functional due to illness, injury, old age or euthanasia but still have brain activity.

Even after the onset of rigor mortis, the heart may continue to beat. If there is no hope of survival for tortoises, they may still be alive because they have evolved to survive on very little oxygen.

The tortoise may still be able to feel pain despite its near-death state, which is horrifying to contemplate. Because of this, vets frequently recommend that the tortoise be pithed if it is unable to be revived.

Prior to cremation or burial, pithing ensures that the animal’s brain has been completely destroyed and that the animal is at peace. This procedure should be carried out by a veterinarian.

What Happens If a Tortoise Dies in Home?

Your tortoise’s final resting place will be almost identical whether it’s in your home or a tank indoors.

Taking the body outside is the only difference. Decomposition can begin in as little as 1-2 days, resulting in a foul odor and a pest population increase. Bacteria should be avoided at all costs.

Check Your Local Laws On Burying Dead Animals

You might be able to bury your tortoise in your yard, depending on where you live.

It’s always best to double-check with your local authority, even if you can find resources online.

In some housing developments, pets cannot be buried on the common grounds, so you’ll need to check with management.

What To Do With A Dead Tortoise

How To Bury A Dead Tortoise

When a tortoise dies, you can bury it in the ground. Otherwise, you can inquire about disposal options at a local vet clinic or a nearby pet cemetery by contacting your local animal welfare organization.

A dead tortoise can be buried in one of two ways at home. The main difference between the two is that the shell will be preserved.

The tortoise’s final resting place should be at least three to four feet below ground level to keep out floodwater and hungry scavengers.

When burying anything other than your dead tortoise’s corpse, use biodegradable products.

  • Keeping The Body Inside A Box for Burial

If you don’t want to preserve your tortoise’s shell, you can simply bury the corpse. Placing it inside a biodegradable box of an appropriate size is the best option. It’s possible to bury it in the ground at a depth of about 4 feet.

Tortoise owners may use multiple layers of plastic to protect their pet’s body from decay, but that’s a waste of resources and won’t help anyone.

Plant flowers in memory of your beloved pet and decorate the grave with a miniature tombstone. After that, bury something heavy to prevent wild animals from digging up the grave.

  • Burial To Preserve the Tortoise’s Shell

It’s also possible to bury a dead tortoise in a manner that preserves its shell. It can take up to 18 months for a dead tortoise to decompose completely, according to Biological Sciences.

You’ll need to do the following if you want to keep the shell:

  • Bury the tortoise three feet down in plastic that has been punctured.
  • Make sure a portion of the rope sticks out of the ground and attach it to the corpse.
  • The decomposition of your flesh can take anywhere from three months to a year.
  • Pull the bones out of the decomposing flesh with the rope.
  • For preservation, remove the shell.
  • Remove any plastic or rope from the grave and rebury the remains.

Can a Tortoise Be Cremated?

Special services and crematoriums for pets are available at many cremation facilities in the United States, and these businesses are often the same ones that provide cremation services for humans.

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Because you can keep the cremated remains, cremating your tortoise is an excellent way to cherish your pet for many years to come. Keeping a tortoise in your family for a long time makes it natural to want to preserve its memory.

A common practice is to store the cremated remains of beloved pets in a special spot in the home.

How To Cremate A Tortoise

There are three common ways to cremate a tortoise, as follows:

  • Private Cremation

The ashes of your pet tortoise can be returned to you in a private cremation.

While your tortoise may be cremated on its own, it will not be alone. In place of that, it’ll be stuffed with other dead animals and put in the freezer. The ashes, on the other hand, are kept separate by means of separators.

Between the most expensive and the cheapest cremation options, a private cremation falls in the middle. The crematorium guarantees that you will only receive your pet’s ashes through this process.

You may be able to watch the process from a viewing room. You will, however, be required to make it available to others.

  • Witnessed Cremation

Observed cremation, on the other hand, is more personal but also the priciest. During this cremation, you and your pet tortoise are guaranteed to be present in the viewing room and the cremation chamber.

You and your loved ones will be able to watch the procedure from a designated area. Anyone else won’t have to share your space.

If you want to see the cremation process in action, a witness cremation is the best option. Some people may be able to move on from the loss of their tortoise as a result of this.

  • Communal Cremation

When it comes to reptile cremation, a communal cremation is by far the most popular and affordable option. Your tortoise’s body will be cremated alongside other animals in a communal cremation.

The animals will not be separated by barriers of any kind. As a result, if you choose to receive the ashes, you should be aware that they will not specifically be those of your pet, as they will be mixed together.

The ashes are usually not returned.

Compassionate owners who want to be involved in the process or who are determined to receive their beloved pet’s ashes should avoid communal cremation. It is, however, more reasonably priced and considerate of animals.

How Much Does It Cost to Cremate a Tortoise?

The cost of cremating a reptile is frequently determined by its weight rather than its species. Cremating exotic reptiles or animals that have died from illnesses or infectious diseases may also incur additional fees from some crematoriums.

Depending on the size and weight of the reptile, the cremation fee can range from $50 to $350. It is cheaper to have a communal cremation than to have a witnessed cremation, because the ashes are not returned to their owners.

The cremation process can be enhanced by additional services, such as a memorial service.

  • Pickup Costs

If you can’t bring the tortoise to the crematorium, some crematoriums offer pick-up services. If the pick-up time is on a weekend, after business hours, or on a holiday, the price may be higher.

The cost of pick-up varies depending on the season and the distance traveled.

  • Costs of Viewing

Viewing the cremation process is an additional $40 fee if it is not included in the cremation package’s price. If you want to bury your loved ones in a crematorium, the cost will be significantly higher.

  • How much does it cost to purchase an urn or other unique container?

The cost of a simple urn or container for your tortoise’s ashes will run you about $100.

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But if you want something more elaborate, you’ll have to fork over up to $1,000. If you don’t already have an urn or container for your tortoise’s ashes, you can purchase one online and bring it to the crematorium.

Disposing of a dead tortoise can be a painful task, but if done within a reasonable budget and with respect, the grieving process will be less difficult.

To ensure that your pet tortoise’s final resting place is peaceful, bury or cremate it within two to three days of its death.

What To Do If You Want To Keep The Shell

Choose a way to remove the flesh and tissue from inside your tort. If you want to keep the shell, you’ll need to do this.

To speed up the decomposition process, most people choose one of the following ways:

  • Remove the Flesh

Remove the flesh from the shell more quickly:

The dead tortoise is buried. It’s better to put the body in a mesh bag and then put a plastic bag over it. Then you can dig it up later and find it. Dig up the body 5 months later and look at how the body has changed in that time.

Check on the body again in a month or two if there are still some pieces of flesh.

  • Using beetles that eat dead things.

This method might sound weird, but it works! It’s possible to get dermestid beetles, which are used by taxidermists. These beetles will eat all of the flesh in a few days. Unfortunately, it takes a long time and is hard to start a colony of beetles.

  • Storing the body in a metal drum

Metal drums are used to keep the body safe. Place the body in a mesh bag and then seal the drum. Do this until the body is inside. In a few months, the flesh should be gone. Put it in a place that gets full sun.

  • Putting the shell on an ant bed.

There are some ants that will do some of your work for you. You just need to leave the body there for about a week. Be careful, though: After about two days, the body of a tortoise will start to smell. You should try and keep it a long way away from your home.

  • A sharp utility knife is used to remove the flesh.

This method is not for the faint of heart! But if you don’t want to wait for the body to break down, you can remove the flesh (some people boil the body first).

How To Store The Shell

Wear gloves and a mask when removing the flesh from the shell.

After removing the flesh, scrub it with hot water and a brush. Wash the shell clean on both sides.

It is best to keep your tortoise’s shell clean.

Next, thoroughly disinfect it (don’t use bleach as it will dilute the colors).

The shell can then be varnished to keep its color for years.

Some people use felt to protect tables and other surfaces.


Losing a tortoise is heartbreaking.

Besides, these reptiles live a long time, so it’s a day you never expect to arrive.

Thankfully, there are many ways to dispose of their body – some more civil than others, but you must do what is right for you and your situation.

Unlike many other pets, we can keep our tortoise’s shell as a memento.

If you truly want to say goodbye, consider burial (if legal) or cremation.

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