Please Subcribe Our Youtube Channel Subcribe Now →

Spreadhapiness.comA Trusted Website For Animal Lover

What To Do With A Dead Tortoise

In this article I will discusse the difficult process of saying goodbye to a pet tortoise, acknowledging that even though tortoises have long lifespans, they eventually pass away. It suggests options for handling a deceased tortoise, including burial, cremation (despite its cost, deemed worthwhile), contacting a taxidermist, or reaching out to animal control for disposal. […]

What To Do With A Dead Tortoise

In this article I will discusse the difficult process of saying goodbye to a pet tortoise, acknowledging that even though tortoises have long lifespans, they eventually pass away. It suggests options for handling a deceased tortoise, including burial, cremation (despite its cost, deemed worthwhile), contacting a taxidermist, or reaching out to animal control for disposal.

How to bury or cremate dead tortoise? Here is your answer.

Is The Tortoise Actually Dead?

The article discusses brumation, a sleep-like state tortoises enter where they slow their metabolism, reduce heartbeat and oxygen consumption, and abstain from daily activities like eating and drinking.

This might lead inexperienced owners to mistake a brumating tortoise for a dead one. Signs of life to look for include responsiveness to interaction, drinking water, breathing, awakening with increased temperature, elimination, and the absence of a rotting smell.

So, look for any sign of life in the tortoise. For example,

  • The creature responds to any interactions.
  • The pet is drinking water.
  • You can feel the tortoise breathing.
  • Increasing the temperature wakes the tortoise up.
  • The pet poops and urinates.
  • There is no rotting smell coming from the pet.

Most of us are not familiar with the smell of rotting flesh. Then again, an infectious disease might also spread foul odor. Thus, you can not rely on the smell.

A berath test is often suggested to check whether the tortoise is dead or alive. Here, you just have to keep a feather in front of the tortoise’s mouth. The feather will move as the pet breaths.

But it is wiser to take the tortoise to a vet for 100% assurance.

What does a dead tortoise look like ?

On a serious note, you can save premature deaths in the toroises with the right action how to dispose of a dead tortoise.

What To Do With A Dead Tortoise?

I know you are in no mental state to make a quick decision when your lovely pet is gone. But you can not delay your decision for too long. Otherwise, the tortoise body will start decomposing.

Experts suggest that the dead tortoises start rotting within 2 – 3 days. I am sure you do not want a dead tortoise in your backyard. The rotten body will spread a foul smell and be unhygienic.

Allegedly, the rotten body attracts bugs, insects, bacteria, and fungi. As a result, the corpse can be responsible for spreading contagious diseases to other pets and humans. In addition, the smell of rotting flesh can also entice wild predators in the area.

So, you can only keep the dead tortoise in your basement or backyard for a short time.

Several options are open that you can do with a dead tortoise. For example,


A proper burial can be a good way to bid farewell to your tortoise friend. You can dig a hole in your property and bury your pet there.

First, dig a hole at least 3 – 4 feet deep. The deeper the grave, the safer it will be from floods and natural disasters. Next, lay your tortoise in the hole and pack it up with soil. You can build a memorial if you want.

People often bury the tortoises in biodegradable caskets, which is expensive. Again, many owners wrap the tortoise in plastic before putting it into the grave. Well, it may delay the corpse decomposition process but will not help you in any way.

However, in some states, a pet burial in the backyard is illegal. You can consult the vet clinic for proper instructions and check the available options in such cases. Contacting the local pet cemetery is also a good decision. Your little tortoise will be lying with other pets on that ground.

Some owners prefer keeping the shell or bone of the tortoise as a memory token. If you have such intentions, then follow the given steps

  • Wrap the corpse with a biodegradable plastic or box.
  • Use ropes to tie the box or plastic, and make sure the rope heads stick outside the ground. This is not mandatory. Alternatively, you can mark the grave.
  • Bury the pet 3 – 4 feet deep.
  • Usually, it takes 3 – 12 months for body decomposition. After that period, you can dig out the corpse with the help of a rope or manually.
  • Separate the bones and shells from the leftovers.
  • Keep the shell and bury the bones without any box or plastic.


You also have the freedom to cremate your dead tortoise. In the USA different crematoriums have special facilities for cremating pets. Though Cremation is expensive, it can be the best way to say goodbye to your tortoise.

You can keep your pet’s ashes in a little pot. Again, some people turn the ashes into jewelry and wear them as a token of love. Moreover, you can scatter the ashes in the wild or a river.

Now if you decide to cremate your pet tortoise, there are 3 types of services availabe,

  1. Communal Cremation: This is the least expensive option where the pet is cremated alongside other animals. There’s no viewing room, and you can’t separate the ashes.
  2. Private Cremation: Your pet is cremated with other animals, but the ashes are separated. This option allows the owner to watch the cremation process and is popular due to its reasonable price.
  3. Witnessed Cremation: This service allows the owner to be present during the cremation of their pet. The tortoise is cremated alone, ensuring no mixing of ashes, and provides an opportunity to create lasting memories.

You should go through the price range of the cremation fecilities before taking the pet to them. Otherwise, they may overcharge you.

The article emphasizes the potential expense associated with cremating tortoises. Basic services can range from $59 to $350 depending on factors like size and health status.

Additional services such as pickup, viewing room access, and urn purchase can incur extra charges, potentially raising costs further. Owners should be prepared for these expenses, which may increase for larger Dead Tortoise.


Taxidermists generally work on the dead tortoise’s shells. Hence, you can contact them for the corpse’s disposal. Though they offer this service free, you get no remains of the Dead Tortoise. But yes, if you want to take a bone or shell of the tortoise, you have to pay them for the service.

Animal Control Organizations

Different animal rescue centres work on disposing of rodakill animals. So you can contact them for more details.

Take Shell & Decompose The Remain

What if you want the shell of the tortoise without waiting for 12 months? Of course, burial is not an option then. But do not worry, as several tricks can fulfill this purpose. For example,

  1. Beetle Method: Utilize dermestid beetles to create a colony on the Dead Tortoise carcass. These beetles consume the flesh, leaving behind a clean shell within about a week.
  2. Metal Drum Method: Wrap the deceased tortoise in a mesh bag and place it inside a metal drum exposed to direct sunlight. Over the course of a month or two, the flesh will decompose, leaving the shell intact.
  3. Ant Bed Method: Place the tortoise in a red ant bed, where the ants will naturally consume the flesh within a week.
  4. Manual Separation: This method involves manually removing the flesh from the tortoise shell, but it’s cautioned that it’s not suitable for beginners.

Pithing The Tortoise

Vets or experts do pith on all dead tortoises before burial or cremation. But What is the logic behind it?

Well, sometimes, there comes a situation when it is impossible to save the Dead Tortoise. The creature might be ill, infectious, or injured. The pets are virtually dead in those cases, but their turtle basking platform brains still function.

As you know, tortoises can survive on low oxygen consumption and slow heartbeats. Thus, breathing when they are virtually dead is not impossible.

Considering the history and overall conditions, the vets pith the tortoises to ensure their death. Pithing involves piercing the tortoise’s brain with a sharp tool to destroy the brain cells. As a result, there will be no brain function, and the pet can be buried or cremated peacefully Dead Tortoise.

I know this process seems cruel and unfair as the pet will still feel pithing pain. But the vets assure that they only pith when there is zero survival chance.

Precautions To Follow

You can not deal with dead animals with bear hands. The corpses can carry germs and spread diseases. Hence, wear gloves when handling the dead body and wash your hands properly.

Again, if you are keeping the shell, clean it with hot water and brush regularly. This will keep bacterial growth away.

Before You Go…

Absolutely, the loss of a tortoise can be deeply emotional, and it’s natural to grieve. It’s important to give yourself the time and space to mourn and eventually bid farewell in a way that feels right for you. Whether it’s a simple gesture or a more elaborate ceremony, what matters most is that it comes from a place of sincerity and love. Saying goodbye with a pure heart honors the bond you shared and helps in the healing process.

Soumik SarkarS

Soumik Sarkar

I am an animal lover from India. It's a trusted website for animal lover.

Responses (0 )

Related posts