We all love our pets, and for some of us, they are basically our children and should be treated as such. Some people may not see the beauty in reptiles, but a lot of people do, and when one dies we want to give them a proper send-off.
But when burial isn’t an option, can you actually cremate a turtle or any other species of reptiles?
Turtles & other species of reptiles can be cremated. The process is almost exactly the same as if you were doing it to a human or any other animal that’s died. They do have special services and crematoriums for pets, but often in America, they are the same business that would cremate a person.
Now that you know that you can cremate your pet turtle or another type of reptile, how do you go about doing that and what does that entail?
While the process is pretty straight forward and it is becoming more common/ popular in the US here is some more detailed information for you.
Why do people get their turtles or reptiles cremated?
The answer is simple, they love their pets. Having a cremation for your reptile is a great way to cherish and remember the animals as you can keep the remains. Not everyone has children and or wants them, their reptile is a family member and so it’s not that unusual to want to keep their memory alive.
One difference between a reptile and other pets is that they can also live very long lives. While a dog or cat can live around 10-15 years, an iguana can live around 20 years and a tortoise over 100+ years. Some people may have this pet their entire lifetime and can get very emotionally attached. So they want to have a proper send-off for it.
Having a cremation could just be part of the grieving process. Everyone grieves differently and for different reasons. People often have ceremonies for their reptiles just as they would a human being. You can have all the steps such as a wake ceremony and burial as well.
Most often people hold on to the ashes and keep them in a special place or you can even make them into jewelry so you can have a piece of your pet with you at all times. You should check out the beautiful handcrafted pieces Mark Hamilton makes with cremains by visiting his site here.
If all, or any of this rings true for you then you aren’t alone and you should definitely read on.
What are the different types of cremations?
There are three basic types of cremations that you can choose from for your reptile. While they are all similar there are slight differences and some options are more personal than others.
- Private Cremation: The “private cremation” name is a bit of a misnomer, while you will get your individual pets ashes the reptile will not be alone in the chamber by itself. Your reptile will be placed into the cremation chamber and they have separators between your pet and the other ones. With this type of cremation, it is the middle of the pack for price and it is a guarantee that you receive only your pet’s ashes. You may have a viewing room to watch the process but will have to share it with others if they choose to watch as well. So this is a good option if you are on a budget but still want the individual remains.
- Witnessed/Personal Cremation: These are the two most common names of this type of cremation. This is the most personal type of cremation but will be the most expensive of the three. For this cremation, you are present at the time of the process and your pet is in the incinerator all alone. There is usually a viewing area for you and all that want to be a part of the process and you will not have to share it with others. For those that were very emotionally attached to their pet, this could be the best way to grieve and help you to move forward.
- Communal Cremation: This is the most common type of cremation that is done. For this one, your reptile will be placed in the cremation chamber along with other animals, not specifically reptiles. There is no partition to separate the animals. So when you receive the ashes it will not be specifically all your pets, they are all mixed together. There also is not usually a viewing room for this type of cremation but might be available upon request. This option is chosen most often because it is the cheapest while still being respectful to your pet.
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Should I cremate my pet reptile at home?
In almost all cases I would recommend that you don’t try to cremate your pet reptile, or any other pet, at home. This isn’t because it’s not at all possible, but just that most people don’t have the right equipment to do it.
It requires terrific heat to reduce your pet reptile to ashes, especially a turtle or tortoise which has a thick shell. In the very worst-case scenario, you will do nothing more than burn them without actually reducing them to ash.
If nothing else, this will be a traumatic experience so it is far better to remove yourself from the trauma and have a professional dispose of your beloved pet with the dignity they deserve.
For more information about being buried with your pet in the USA, please refer to my full article here.
How much does it cost to cremate my reptile?
The cost of the cremation is similar to that of humans and will vary from one place to the next. The process though for animals is most often charged by the weight of the create not by the species. Though some places do charge extra for exotic reptiles or animals that have died of illness or communicable disease.
The prices vary from $50 -$350, depending on the weight of the reptile. The lowest cost would be for a communal cremation, and no ashes would be returned. The middle would be private and the ashes, in this case, would be returned and the highest is for personal, of course with a return of the ashes.
There are other costs and services and products that you can add on to make it more memorable for you and to help you grieve.
- Pick-up– Some times a reptile dies and we cannot bring it to the crematorium. This may because it is closed, outside business hours, it is the weekend, or over the holidays. The cost is usually around $40 for this and could be a bit more if they have to drive even further to pick up your pet.
- Viewing- If it is not included in the price of the cremation, it is around $40 for you to view the process, even more, if you rent it out for yourself and your family.
- Urn/ Special Container– A basic urn is around $100.00 but can range up to $1,000 if it is extravagant. You can find them online or even bring your own to have the ashed deposited into.
What do I do with the ashes of my reptile?
This is often the most common type of question that people have, they are unsure of what to do with the ashes of their deceased friend.
Here are some different ideas for you to think about. remember there are no right or wrong things to do with the ashes everyone is different and you should do what feels best.
- Urn– As with human remains this is the most common and traditional of all them and you can buy them from the crematorium or bring your own.
- Jewelry or a keychain- With this option, you can have your reptile with you where ever you go. There are many businesses out there now that can help you with this, you can even have the piece crafted into the shape of your reptile.
- Headstones/ Memorials- If you are having a cremation and want to have a burial or memorial as well, you could have the ashes mixed in with the concrete in the construction of the piece. You could put all of the ashes in or leave some behind to bury in front of the headstone. They even have a memorial that has an urn on the front to put in the ashes.
- Boxes-This is a simple yet tasteful way to have the remains stored and you can customize it to your home decor of the characteristics of the pet. It can be a homemade wooden box or something like a jewelry box, there are a lot of possibilities.
- Art/Diamonds- By mixing the ashes in with such things as the paint you could have a picture commissioned or do one yourself. Some people also have them mixed in with glass to make blown glass. If you have enough money and really want to go big having a diamond pressed is another option.
- Burial- Where you put them into a regular urn, biodegradable on or simply just scattered them underground burial is a nice send-off you the ashes of your pet. This could be a place for you to visit and remember your pet. There are a lot of pet cemeteries in every state that you could bury your pet in. Read about burying pets here in my article.
- Scattering the ashes- Some people feel that scattering the ashes of their reptile in a place that they or their pet loved is the best send-off. While it may be, make sure to check with local laws on the scattering of ashes as it may be harmful to the local environment.
If you want to pick up a quality urn or memorial for your beloved pet I would really recommend OneWorld Memorial which offers a wide range of products for both pet and human memorials. I was personally very happy with an urn I bought from them recently.
How long is the process?
A small reptile such as a chameleon could take less than 30 minutes something larger such as an iguana could take an hour or two. It really depends on the size and weight of the reptile.
What exactly happens during the cremation?
The body is placed into a chamber that is heated to around 1600 degrees Fahrenheit where it will turn the reptile into ash an bone. After the material is removed the leftover bones and fragments will be ground down to a grayish sand-like material, similar to grit and gravel.