Dead Turtle In Tank? Here’s What To Do

sings that your turtle is dead

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Saying farewell to a beloved pet is a painful experience. In terms of longevity, turtles are among the best options as pets. Your pet turtle will become a part of the family after all these years together. Unfortunately, we never seem to be able to retain our pets for an adequate amount of time.

If you find a potentially dead turtle in the tank, first you have to make sure whether it’s bromating or actually dead. After that, you can deal with the dead body in a few ways including burying, cremating, disposing, and even preserving its shell.

If you’ve ever lost a pet, you know how terrible it is. In addition to the emotional toll of coming to terms with your own mortality, you may feel helpless and stuck when faced with the end of a loved one’s life.

In this piece, we offer our sincerest sympathies and provide advice on how to properly say farewell to your turtle. And if you can save their shells. The following details will help you determine whether your turtle is deceased and what to deal with its remains.

What Happens To A Dead Turtle?

The primary change that takes place when an animal dies is its decomposition. Once an animal dies, the tissues begin to decompose with the help of microbes including bacteria, fungi, and others.

If you think your turtle may be deceased, it’s important to be sure. Here are the most telling symptoms of a turtle’s demise:

  • It does not move at all and holds its position.
  • It can be floated on the water.
  • It is unresponsive to external input.
  • When laid flat on its back, it stays put.
  • It stinks quite badly.

The absence of any signs of life is the primary warning that your pet has passed away. It seems to have stopped moving several days ago.

It’s possible it’s just hibernating and not dead at all. Therefore, you should attempt to stimulate it.

However, keep in mind that if it’s bromating, it might not react right away. Try turning it over or putting it in water to see whether it floats.

How To Tell If A Turtle Is Brumating Or Dead?

When temperatures drop and food becomes scarce, turtles enter a hibernation state known as brumation.

The turtle is considerably more prone to engage in brumation rather than hibernate. The turtle’s metabolism drops, and it rests peacefully in a dark, secure place until the storm passes. As digestion halts blood flow, breathing gradually decreases until it is hardly perceptible.

Burrows, mud holes, and leaf piles are common places for wild turtles to relax. Dealing with the loss of a pet is a difficult experience for anybody.

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More so when brumation misunderstanding is there, the conflicts will be severe. That’s why it’s crucial to do a death verification first.

See whether your turtle is still alive by consulting the information below, and if not, determine what to deal with its remains.

How To Identify A Dead Turtle?

The loss of a beloved pet is a reality that everyone must face at some point. You can determine whether an animal or even many smaller pets, like a fish, are dead just by looking at them.

There is very little space for debate in these cases. Contrarily, this is certainly not the situation with turtles.

To the untrained eye, it might be hard to determine whether a turtle has died or is just hibernating because of the way its body is constructed.

Because their shell covers so much of their body, it might be difficult to tell whether your turtle has passed away.

However, there are precise indicators that you may check for to verify the turtle is healthy.

1. No Reaction To Stimuli

It is possible to wake a bromating turtle by actively stimulating it. It will still be conscious enough to react. Your turtle is probably dead if it doesn’t make any attempts to move or respond to your actions.

2. The Touch Is Cold

If you notice that your turtle is unusually chilly to the touch, it may be time to say goodbye. A bromating turtle possesses a reduced body temperature, thus this indicator is difficult.

3. Foul Smell

As a turtle decays, a foul odor will develop. This immediately begins in a dead turtle, but it is somewhat slowed by cooler temperatures. This stench is a sure sign that your turtle has passed away.

4. Sunken Eyes

Whether you’re not sure if your turtle is dead or not, look in its eyes. If your turtle’s eyes seem hollow, it may be too late to save it.

You may need to search for additional indicators to verify the turtle’s death, since dehydration may also cause the eyes to sag.

5. Skin Shrunk And Dried Out

The skin of a deceased turtle may be saggy, wrinkled, or depressed. This is possible after the turtle has decomposed. If your turtle’s skin seems odd or shriveled, it may not be in brumation but rather dead.

6. Flies And Larvae

Your turtle is probably dead if you discover maggots or insects on its body.

7. Decomposing Shell Or Skin

Rotting shells or skins are other indicators that you’re dealing with a deceased turtle. This decay is a result of the turtle’s decomposition.

8. Stiff Legs

Brumating turtles maintain full muscular movement. If your turtle is still, with its legs protruding from its shell, you should take it up. It’s safe to assume they’re dead if their limbs are flailing about helplessly.

What To Do With A Dead Turtle?

After you have determined that your turtle has passed away, it is time to say your last goodbyes. No one wants to come home to a beloved pet.

These sorts of things do occur, sadly. When a pet turtle dies, it’s important to properly deal with it for the sake of the community and the earth. General guidelines for turtle burial are as follows:

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Precautionary Measures

Before handling a deceased from the tank turtle, protect your hands by wearing gloves. If not handled properly, the risks are high. Touch it as little as possible.


You can take a deceased pet to one of three locations. Seeing a veterinarian should be the first step.

The animal hospital can cremate the family pet, giving you ashes to scatter or keep. If you do not desire the shells or the remnants, veterinarians will dispose of the deceased turtle at no cost to you.

A taxidermist in the area could appreciate a free turtle for its shell. Find local taxidermists and get in touch with them to see if they’re willing to assist you out.

Dead animals can be dropped off at some animal control facilities. This service is provided so that residents won’t have to dispose of deceased animals or those hit by vehicles.

The Burial Of A Turtle

If the turtle was tiny or medium in size, burying it is the most humane option for disposal. The deceased turtle should be wrapped in a plastic bag and then the bag should be placed in a box for burial. In order to proceed, you must now dig a deep hole in which to bury the box.

Burial restrictions vary by jurisdiction, so it’s best to double-check with the appropriate authorities. There are the minimum and maximum burial depth requirements imposed by several governments.

While you’re excavating, be careful not to hit any powered wires or other service wires. Do not go into low-lying or watery regions, either.

Get in Touch With Your Local Sanitation Service

Find out whether a company that removes deceased animals operates in your region. If there is a dead turtle, you may request that they remove it. If you need assistance with disposal, don’t hesitate to call your municipal sanitation office.

The Cremation Process

You should take a little extra time to make funeral preparations for your turtle. A local veterinarian who cares for animals and who does not want yours thrown out will be happy to help you.

It’s possible that the local vet offers high-quality pet cremation treatments. Even last-minute matters may be handled for you by him.

Maintaining A Tidy Environment

Once you’ve decided where to relocate your turtle, it’s time to clean up his former home. If you have any reason to believe that your turtle was infected with salmonella, you should wash the tank completely.

Check around your turtle’s environment while you clean so you may identify any potential causes for your turtle’s disease if it passed away from sickness or other medical problems.

It’s heartbreaking to lose your turtle in any way. Ensure that you allow yourself plenty of time to mourn.

How Can A Dead Turtle’s Shell Be Preserved?

Keeping a pet turtle’s shell as a keepsake might be a wonderful memento. If you wish to retain the turtle shell, you’ll need to scrape out any remaining flesh and tissues.

It can take a full year or longer for the insides to completely decompose. If you wish to keep the shell, we’ll have to hasten the breakdown mechanism.

The following are some of the techniques that are used toward this aim:

  • Utilization of corpse cleaning beetles
  • Dig a grave for the turtle and bury it.
  • You may put the turtle’s body in a metal barrel.
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Beetles of several kinds are used by certain taxidermists for emptying the skeletons of animals. It just takes a few weeks for a swarm of dermestid beetles to completely consume your deceased turtle. Sadly, it takes a long time to establish a beetle population.

Both of the following alternatives are somewhat less involved. If you put the turtle in a storage bag inside a plastic, you may bury it many feet deep.

The turtle should be dug up after five months to check for decay. If any meat is still on the turtle after two months, bury it again.

Your second choice is to store the turtle in a waterproof container in the open air, such as a metal drum.

Put the turtle in a bag, then expose it to the sun for a while before closing the bag. Interiors should have completely degraded within a matter of months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Does A Dead Turtle Float Or Sink?

Upon passing away, turtles deteriorate like any other animal. As their body decomposes and gases develop, it emits a horrible stench. The internal gas buildup after a turtle has died increases its buoyancy, allowing them to float.

Q. What May Have Caused The Turtle To Pass Away Suddenly?

There are several potential causes of a turtle’s demise. It’s not easy to say for sure what kills a turtle, but it seems like overheating is a leading suspect.

It is possible for a turtle to perish if its environment is not properly maintained. Survival requirements for turtles are rather specific. If the owner doesn’t perform any of these things, the turtle might die suddenly.

Q. Do Turtles Die When They Flip Over?

When turned on their backs, turtles can still take a breath. So, obviously, they won’t perish. Long-term immobility is fatal for turtles since they can’t get food or water. Most turtles have the ability to correct themselves if they are accidentally turned over. Dome-shaped shells make it simpler for turtles to turn over.

Q. Can A Dead Turtle Be Revived?

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to bring your dead turtle back to life. Occasionally, if the turtles’ reason for dying is actually choking, CPR may be used to bring them back to life.

Final Words

Sometimes it might be hard to know whether your turtle is really dead. The widespread assumption is that a turtle in brumation has passed away.

The term “brumating” refers to the state of resting that cold-blooded creatures, most notably turtles, enter throughout the winter.

If your turtle suddenly stops responding, you should take her to the vet before you give up hope that she will recover. If the turtle is sick, the vet can help it recover.

However, you can either, bury, cremate or preserve the shell of your beloved turtle upon its death.

Turtles stand out from the crowd because of their distinctive shells. When a turtle dies, its shell stays intact while the rest of its body decomposes.

If you have a hard time saying goodbye to your reptile companions, preserving their skeletons is a simple solution.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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