What To Do With A Dead Tortoise

What To Do With A Dead Tortoise? All You Need To Know

Pets are the family we choose, and likewise, the loss of one can bring immense grief, especially when you have to deal with their dead bodies. 

So, what to do with a dead tortoise? You can consider burying or cremating your tortoise. Otherwise, you can call an animal control organization for help if you’re too overwhelmed to do it yourself.  Needless to say, there is no pain-free option for a pet owner.

Moving on, we will tell you more about the options you can choose. Moreover, we will tell you how to ensure the tortoise is dead. Additionally, we will give you information on how to keep the shell. 

Ensuring The Tortoise Is Dead


Ensuring The Tortoise Is Dead

Tortoises often enter a state of inactivity or deep sleep, known as Brumation. This usually happens in winter but can also happen in favorable environments. During this, their body temperature, heart, and respiratory rates will drop. To ensure the tortoise’s death, check its breathing and heartbeat. 

Additionally, create a warm environment and check for movement. If this doesn’t work, check for a foul odor. However, don’t let it be the only deciding factor. The odor can come from an infection too. 

Lastly, wait for a few hours and check for urine or stool. Tortoises usually defecate when in brumation.  

What To Do With A Dead Tortoise?

What To Do With A Dead Tortoise

Down below, we’ve listed a few methods to deal with a dead tortoise. 


You can take it to a pet cemetery or bury it on your own. However, you should check your state’s laws for burying a pet. Some countries don’t have a law for burying a pet. 

Once you’ve checked the laws, look for a convenient place for burial. Dig a grave with a depth of three feet at least. However, some prefer to wrap the tortoise in a biodegradable box or put it in a casket before burying it.  

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Keeping the ashes of your pet may provide you with great comfort. Moreover, this may be the wiser option if your pet dies from an infectious disease or is euthanized. Cremation helps to decrease the risk of contamination.  

Dead Tortoise

For cremation, you will get two options to choose from. You can go for a communal cremation, but we wouldn’t recommend it. While this option is cheaper, your tortoise will be cremated with other animals. Thus, you won’t be getting the ashes. 

So, we recommend you go for a private cremation. Not only will you get the ashes, but you will also get to witness the cremation. However, to avoid the hassle of a crematory, you can contact a local animal shelter for cremation. 

Contacting an animal control organization

This method is feasible for anyone who isn’t a pet owner or has been one for a short time. It’s normal to get scared or confused when you come across a dead animal, so feel free to call a local animal control organization. Just make sure to contact them ahead of time. 

How To Keep A Dead Tortoise’s Shell? 

How To Keep A Dead Tortoise’s Shell

Saying goodbye to your pet is a heartbreaking experience. To make it slightly easier, some people preserve the shell of their tortoise. You can acquire the shell by decomposing the body.  This is how you will go through to complete the process.

  1. For complete decomposition, you must keep the body buried between three months to a year. 
  2. Examine the grave every few weeks to ensure the decomposition process. 
  3. When you notice the skeleton, that’s the signal to take out the shell. 
  4. Once you’ve taken out the shell, you have to clean it. You can wash it with borax or just put it in boiling water for a few minutes to kill the bacteria. 
  5. To finish it off, coat it with polyurethane. 
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However, this process can take an emotional toll on pet owners. Moreover, we don’t recommend this if you’re not experienced in such processes. So, you can contact a taxidermist for this. They’re more experienced and will do it in no time! 


It’s never easy dealing with such sensitive matters. Let’s look into some common queries people have to clear off some air.

Q. Why do tortoises pretend to be dead? 

They do this to reset their bodies, especially during winter. Some may do it to strengthen their bodies before reproducing. 

Q. Can I cremate my tortoise at home? 

While it can be done at home, it’s not as easy as one thinks. Lack of adequate space and equipment can be a big hurdle. 

Q. Does burying a pet smell?

If you don’t do it the right way, you will end up with a bad odor. Dig up a deep grave and follow the right sanitation steps afterward. 


Losing your tortoise can be extremely upsetting. No matter how gut-wrenching the experience is, you will have to say goodbye to it. You can choose to bury or cremate it. You can witness the cremation process to help you mourn the loss. 

Moreover, you can contact an animal control organization or local animal shelter to help you with the process. Additionally, you can keep the shell of your tortoise in remembrance. We hope you got the answer to what to do with a dead tortoise. 

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