What to Do With a Dead Snake: Essential Tips for Snake Owners

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If you are a snake owner, you know that having a pet snake comes with a responsibility to ensure that the snake is well cared for and healthy. One of the questions that often comes up is “what to do with a dead snake?”. This article provides essential tips for snake owners on the appropriate steps to take when dealing with a dead snake. From disposing of the snake to taking the necessary safety precautions, the article covers all the important details.

Types of Snakes

Types Of Snakes
Snakes are divided into two main categories: venomous and non-venomous. Venomous snakes are further divided into elapids, vipers and rear-fanged snakes. Elapids, or cobras and kraits, possess short, fixed front fangs and are able to deliver their venom through a bite. Vipers, or pit vipers, have long hinged fangs that can be folded back when the mouth is closed and are capable of delivering a powerful venom through a bite. Rear-fanged snakes, or opisthoglyphs, possess enlarged, grooved rear fangs and venom that is generally weaker than that of elapids or vipers. Non-venomous species include boas, pythons, blind snakes, and other harmless snakes.

Disposal of a Dead Snake

Disposal Of A Dead Snake

In the Wild

If you find a dead snake outdoors, it’s best to leave it be. As long as the snake is not posing a health risk, it can be left in its natural environment. Snakes are an important part of the local ecosystems, providing food for predators and helping to balance the food chain.

In the Home

If you find a dead snake in your home, it’s important to dispose of it safely. Put on gloves to avoid contact with the snake, then wrap it in a plastic bag. Place the bag in a sealed container and take it to your local trash collection center. If the snake is large, you may need to call a professional wildlife removal service to take care of it.

Reasons for a Dead Snake

Reasons For A Dead Snake

  • Injury
  • Disease
  • Old age
  • Predation
  • Inadequate care
  • Lack of food and water

Identifying a Dead Snake

Identifying A Dead Snake

Signs of a Dead Snake Signs of a Living Snake
Limp body Alert and active
Cold to the touch Warm to the touch
No movement in response to stimuli Movement in response to stimuli
Eyes remain closed Eyes are open and alert
Rigid body Flexible body
No breathing Breathing/respiration

The most obvious sign of a dead snake is its lack of movement. A dead snake will have a limp, rigid body and will not respond to stimuli. Its eyes will remain closed and its body will be cold to the touch. In contrast, a living snake will be alert and active, warm to the touch, and will move in response to stimuli. Its eyes will be open and alert. Its body will be flexible. Additionally, a living snake will be breathing/respiring.

Diseases from Dead Snakes

Diseases From Dead Snakes

  • Salmonella: Salmonella is a common bacterial infection that can be contracted from handling a dead snake. Symptoms can include abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea.
  • Rabies: Rabies is a virus that is spread through saliva or other bodily fluids, and can be contracted after handling a dead snake.
  • Tetanus: Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can occur when a dead snake’s saliva comes into contact with an open wound.
  • Hantavirus: Hantavirus is a virus that is found in rodents and can be spread through contact with a dead snake’s feces or urine.
  • Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a viral infection that is spread through contact with a dead snake’s feces and can cause severe liver damage.

Handling a Dead Snake

Handling A Dead Snake

To safely handle a dead snake, you should wear thick gloves and use a long-handled tool (e.g. a shovel) to pick the snake up. Avoid direct contact with the snake, or any other contact with your skin. Place the snake in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of in an appropriate waste bin. If you are unsure of the species of the snake, take a picture or contact a local wildlife expert for identification. Do not attempt to handle a dead snake if you are unsure of its species or if it is a venomous snake.

Burial of a Dead Snake

  • Put on gloves for safety.
  • Dig a hole in the ground, large enough to fit the snake’s body.
  • Place the dead snake in the hole.
  • Cover the hole with soil.
  • Mark the burial site with a stone or a stake.

Alternatives to Burial

  • Composting: This method is best for smaller snakes as it allows for the body to decompose quickly and naturally. It also helps to reduce the environmental impacts of burial, as none of the body will be left in the ground.
  • Taxidermy: Taxidermy is a great way to keep the memory of the snake alive. This process involves the preservation of the snake’s body by drying the skin and stuffing it with cotton. The snake can then be put on display as a reminder of the pet.
  • Cremation: Cremation is an option that can be arranged through a pet crematorium. This process involves burning the body of the snake until only ashes remain. These ashes can then be kept in an urn, or scattered in a meaningful place.
  • Freeze-drying: This method is very similar to taxidermy, but instead of stuffing the body with cotton, the body is frozen and dried until it is completely dry and preserved. This is a good option for those who do not want to have the snake stuffed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Way to Dispose of a Dead Snake?

The best way to dispose of a dead snake is to double-bag it in plastic garbage bags, seal the bags securely, and place them in an outdoor garbage bin. Make sure to wear gloves to protect yourself from any potential diseases or parasites. It is also important to avoid touching the snake’s eyes, mouth, or nose. If the dead snake is located in a hard-to-reach area, it is best to contact a local wildlife removal expert for assistance.

How can I tell if a snake is dead?

A snake is dead when it no longer moves, reacts, or breathes, and its eyes are cloudy. If the snake is lying on its side, the body may be limp or stiff. Additionally, a dead snake’s tongue will not be sticking out, and its pupils will not be dilated. If the snake is still warm to the touch, it is likely not dead.

Are There Any Safety Precautions To Take When Handling a Dead Snake?

When handling a dead snake, it is important to take the proper safety precautions. It is important to wear gloves to avoid contact with the dead snake’s body fluids, which could potentially contain dangerous bacteria or viruses. If you are not confident in your ability to identify the species of the dead snake, it is best to contact a professional wildlife removal service or your local animal control agency. It is also important to avoid touching the snake’s head or mouth, as the teeth may still contain venom. Finally, it is important to dispose of the dead snake in a safe and responsible manner.

Is it Safe to Bury a Dead Snake in My Yard?

Buryng a dead snake in your yard is not recommended. Even if the snake is dead, it can still carry parasites and diseases and can contaminate the soil and nearby water sources. Additionally, burying the snake may attract other snakes or predators that could pose a danger to you and your family. The safest way to dispose of a dead snake is to double bag it in plastic and dispose of it in the trash.

Are there any special requirements for disposing of a dead snake?

When disposing of a dead snake, it is important to take necessary precautions to protect yourself and the environment. Most dead snakes can be buried or disposed of with other household waste. If the snake is showing signs of disease, it is best to consult with your local health department or animal control department for safe disposal methods. Additionally, be sure to wear gloves and other protective gear while handling the snake.


It is essential that all snake owners take the necessary steps to properly and safely dispose of a dead snake. Doing so prevents the spread of diseases, protects other wildlife, and ensures that the snake’s remains are respectfully taken care of. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, including burial, composting, and contacting a professional taxidermist. No matter which method is chosen, it is important to always wear protective gear and use caution to ensure safety.

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