4 Things You Can Do With a Dead Leopard Gecko (and how to check its dead)

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If you keep a leopard gecko long enough, they start to feel like family. After all, your reptile companion can make even your most stressful life experiences bearable.

So what are you supposed to do when your leopard gecko dies? What should you even do with the body?

There are several ways that you can dispose of a leopard gecko’s body. You can bury them, cremate them, or even look for veterinary disposal services. Alternatively, you can contact your local authorities –  they could offer dead animal removal services. 

Dead leopard gecko

4 things you can do with a dead leopard gecko

1. Burying

This is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most common ways of disposing of a leopard gecko’s body.

Since these reptiles are small, you don’t even need a large area to bury them. While you can bury them in a pet cemetery to give them a permanent home you can visit, this isn’t necessary.

You can easily bury them in your backyard or your garden planters. After all, leopard geckos can completely decompose within a mere 23 days, making them a great fertilizer. 

2. Cremation

Cremation is yet another popular way of disposing of dead leopard geckos. It usually involves burning your reptile’s body at temperatures of 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the amount of time this process requires depends on the size of your pet, it’s usually around 2 hours. Interestingly, finding a crematorium for your gecko is easy – you can find one online or even ask your vet for a referral.

However, cremation isn’t ideal for everyone – it can be too expensive for some. 

If your leopard gecko is smaller than average, you may worry if you’ll even get a substantial amount of ashes in the end anyway.

After all, experts estimate that you only get 3.5% of your pet’s weight back in ashes. Whatever your concerns are though, you need to know that there are three cremation options available for pet owners – communal, partitioned, and private cremations.

As its name suggests, a communal cremation involves burning several animals together. As such, all the animals’ ashes are mixed together and you can’t get your reptile’s ashes. 

Partitioned cremations involve placing partitions between the different animals during the cremation process. So while they are all burned in the same compartment, their ashes are separated.

However, it’s still possible for particles of another pet’s ashes to get into your gecko’s remains. So if you want to prevent this completely, it is best to opt for a private cremation. Such cremations involve burning your pet alone. 

It’s therefore not surprising that private cremations are usually more expensive than communal and partitioned ones. The good news is that private cremations allow you to then store the ashes in an urn or scatter them in a place that was special to you and your pet. 

3. Getting veterinary disposal services

If you’re too traumatized to handle your leopard gecko’s dead body, you can get your local vet to do it for you. This is also a great option for those who come across dead leopard geckos on the roadside. Whether the geckos are pets or wild animals, your local vet will know what to do with them. 

4. Contacting your local authorities

While many people may not know about this, some local authorities offer dead animal removal services. So whether the dead leopard gecko is yours or you just found it on the road, you can contact them and have them dispose of the body.

How can you tell that a leopard gecko is dead?

Before you even think about getting rid of a leopard gecko’s body, you need to ensure that they are actually dead. Some signs to look out for include:

1. They’re not breathing

One of the best indicators that any animal has passed away is that they are not breathing. So if you suspect that a leopard gecko is dead, put your finger on its rib cage and feel for any movement. If you notice movement, the leopard gecko is still breathing and alive. If you don’t feel anything, they are dead. 

Related: what to do if your leopard gecko is breathing too fast

2. Their belly has a stain

When leopard geckos die, their gallbladders can’t hold bile any longer and leak it. This stains any adjacent tissues in a few hours, creating a greenish-blue dot at the belly’s bottom.

So if you see this dot, know that the leopard gecko has been dead for a while. 

3. They have unresponsive eyes

When leopard geckos die, their eyes sink in and become unresponsive. If they died with their eyes open, it may even seem like they’re staring at you.

So if you suspect that a leopard gecko is dead, shine a light in its eyes – if it’s alive its pupils will react. Be careful when doing this though. Lights that are too bright or shone too close to a leopard gecko’s eyes can damage them if the reptile is alive after all. 

Sometimes a leopard gecko will sleep with one eye open – so make sure they are definitely not just sleeping!

4. They’re unresponsive to touch

If you touch a leopard gecko and handle them for a while and they don’t respond, they could be dead. However, this is not a sure-fire indicator of death. As such, it should be accompanied by any of the three above-mentioned indicators. 

5. Clear fatal injuries 

If a rock falls on a leopard gecko’s head and crushes it or something else clearly fatal happens, it’s safe to say that the reptile is dead. 

Can leopard geckos act dead?

Like many other lizards, leopard geckos can act dead. In fact, they commonly play dead when attacked by predators in the wild – they will just roll on their back and remain still. They will usually stay in this state until the predators go away and they no longer feel threatened.

This isn’t the only defense mechanism leopard geckos employ though. They’ve also been known to darken their skin and neck when predators pass by in an effort to look more like a snake and scare them away.  

Related: How Long Leopard Geckos Live in Captivity

What are the signs that your leopard gecko is dying?

Symptoms that your gecko is dying include:

  • Excessive weight loss – if you notice that your leopard gecko is quickly losing a lot of weight and even has a thin tail, you should be alarmed. They could be malnourished, sick, or even have parasites, all of which could kill them.
  • Sunken eyes – this could be a sign of dehydration or illness, both of which require immediate intervention if your leopard gecko is to survive.
  • No droppings – this is a sure-fire sign that your leopard gecko is impacted. Unfortunately, it is usually noticeable mere days before your leopard gecko dies.
  • Lack of appetite – this is a very dangerous symptom because it can make your leopard gecko starve to death. It is usually caused by stress, illness, parasites, or even impaction.

Final thoughts 

It’s always heartbreaking when your leopard gecko dies, no matter how long you’ve had it. Fortunately, disposing of your beloved pet’s body is not that complicated.

With just a little research, you can find a beautiful way to send them off. And the best part is, no matter where you live,  there are always several vets, pet cemeteries, crematoriums, and even local authorities that are willing to make things easier for you!

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