Can I Bury my Hamster in my Backyard?

Can I Bury my Hamster in my Backyard

Can I bury my hamster in my backyard? 

While many hamster owners prefer to bury their hamster in their backyard, you are not always allowed to do so. You will need to check if this is an option in your area by checking the local laws on pet burial. While it’s legal in most states, the rules vary per state and sometimes even per city. There are often specific rules on the depth of the grave and the location as well as how long you can leave your pet above ground.  

What happens when your hamster dies? 

Once your hamster has died (and you have confirmed this) there are some things you need to do: 

  1. Decide whether to bury or cremate your hamster 
  1. Decide whether you want to cremate or bury at home or use a professional service 
  1. Check it’s legal to bury or cremate at home should you choose so 
  1. Find a reputable company should you want a professional service 
  1. Make sure you follow regulations for burial at home, especially timeframe between death and burial and depth of the grave, to avoid disease from spreading. 

Do hamsters bury themselves before they die? 

While some hamsters might snuggle up in their bed before they die, hamsters don’t normally bury themselves before they die. When they are ill, they will be sleeping a lot and it might look like they are burying themselves but often they die anywhere in their cage and sometimes even in their owners’ hands.  

What do hamsters do when they’re about to die? 

Hamsters are very cheerful and active creatures and it’s not always clear when they are about to move on to the afterlife. Sometimes they become slow and rest at unusual spots in their cage, but very often they just look like they are asleep. It could be that they are quieter and slower in their last days, particularly when they are ill. But when dying from old age, there is often no warning.  

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Do hamsters go stiff when they die? 

The stiffness of the body after death is called rigor mortis and in contrast to popular believe, the rigor mortis state is temporarily. The body will soften again which means that just checking whether your hamster’s body has gone stiff is not always a reliable way to know if he’s passed on or not. Rigor mortis is due to a chemical change in the muscles which then stiffen, and this stage of death can start as early as 15 to 30 minutes after your hamster dies. Always check thoroughly for signs of death as your hamster could be hibernating! 

How long does it take for a dead hamster to go stiff? 

The stiffness is called rigor mortis, and this is the third stage of death. While it can take hours to get to this stage in humans, it’s likely to happen quickly after the death of your hamster, typically within 30 minutes. Muscles turn firm and rigid due to chemical change in the muscles due to lack of oxygen. 


How long before a dead hamster starts to smell? 

Because your hamster’s body will start to decompose almost immediately, they will start to smell quite quickly. To stop this from happening you can freeze your hamster until you are ready to bury him. If you are planning to cremate or bury within 24 hours, you can keep your hamster in the fridge. Always keep your hamster in an airtight container or bag and keep it away from food. Never keep your hamster in the refrigerator for longer than 24 hours! 

How long does it take for a dead hamster to start smelling? 

Hamsters will start smelling bad very quick as their body starts to decompose almost immediately once they have died. The longer you leave your hamster to more it will smell. Use plastic gloves to handle your hamster after he has died and dispose of the gloves after use. Bury your hamster soon after if your state allows pets to be buried in your backyard. Otherwise contact a professional service to collect your hamster. You can store your hamster in the fridge for 24 hours or in the freezer for longer. Always store in an airtight bag or container, away from food.  

How deep do I need to bury my hamster? 

Most states have rules on how deep you should bury your hamster. This is often between 3 and 5 feet deep. Some states have additional rules so make sure you check. Always bury away from water sources, utility lines in the ground and vegetable growing areas.  While flowerbeds have softer soil which will make it easier to bury your hamster, it’s best not to bury your hamster there. There is a big chance you will disturb their grave in the years to come when planting flowers in that area.

How long can I keep my hamster before I bury it? 

You can keep you hamster in the fridge in a sealed bag or container for up to 24 hours. You can freeze your hamster for a longer period. However, it’s best to keep your hamster’s body only in the freezer for a short period of time, as contamination of food is a larger possibility the longer you store the body. There might also be rules in your location which dictates how quickly you need to bury you hamster yourself or by a professional service. Remember though that for emotional closure it’s often better to bury your hamster sooner rather than later.  

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Can I bury my hamster in a plastic bag? 

While you can bury your hamster in a plastic bag, it’s environmentally friendly to bury your hamster in a biodegradable box or bag. This ensures that their body can go back to nature and no rubbish is left behind which will stay in the ground for a long time. You can use wood, cardboard box or a store-bought biodegradable bag or box. 

What do you do after your hamster dies? 

It’s often a shock when you realise your beloved hamster has died. This means that not everyone is able to think clearly and to decide on which next steps to take. If you are unsure, put your hamster in an airtight container or bag and place him or her in the fridge. By doing that you buy yourself 24 hours. If you leave your hamster at room temperature your hamster will further decompose and will start to smell.

You will need to decide whether you want to (and are allowed to by law) bury your hamster in the garden or if you want a professional pet cremation service to take your hamster and look after that side for you. Most people prefer to bury a hamster in the back yard. All you need to do then is decide what to place your hamster in, where the grave will be and check what the laws are in your state. It’s never easy when a pet dies, so it’s important to give yourself a chance to say goodbye in a way that will help you come to terms with your loss.

Do you need to bury your hamster quickly after he dies? 

In many states there are clear rules on burying your pets. The timeframe between death and burial are important to avoid disease from spreading from the remains of your pet. If you don’t bury or cremate your hamster straight away, storing your hamster safely becomes very important as decomposing starts right after death.  For the same reason there are rules on the depth of the grave so wild animals (or dogs) don’t dig up your hamster. This is often between 3 and 5 feet. 

How long can you keep a dead hamster? 

Rules around burying/cremating your pets (and how quickly this needs to be done after death) vary per state, so it’s important to check the local rules. If you can’t bury your hamsters straight away, you can keep your hamster in the fridge for up to 24 hours. An airtight container or bag will make sure your food in the fridge doesn’t get contaminated. You can also freeze your hamster to keep their body preserved for longer. For emotional closure it’s often better to bury or cremate your hamster sooner rather than later. If you are not sure on how to go about it, you can also ask a professional pet cremation service to look after it.  

How do you store a dead hamster? 

Always place your dead hamster in an airtight container or bag. This is very important. You can store your hamster up to 24 hours in the fridge and longer in the freezer. However, try to bury or cremate your hamster soon after he dies to avoid contamination of food in your fridge/freezer. Always wear plastic gloves when handling your dead hamster and dispose of these after use.  

Where can I get my hamster cremated? 

There are professional pet cremation services which can cremate your pet for you. They often deal with bigger pets but many will cremate hamsters as well. If your hamster dies of a disease or at the vets, this is often your only option as burial of ill pets in your garden is not permitted. Google pet cremation service for your area and call several to see what they offer and what the price is. They will come and collect your hamster from your home or the vets. Some offer a service where you can have the ashes in a box which I did for my dog. This will be at a premium price but you can discuss this beforehand.

Why you shouldn’t bury your pet in the backyard 

In some states it’s illegal to bury your pet in your backyard. Always check the local laws on this. As dead bodies carry disease and some pets get dug up again by wild animals, not everyone is a fan of burying pets in the back yard. Contamination of water sources can be an issue and when a pet is buried in a flower bed, the body can be disturbed whenever gardening the flower bed. The main reasons not to bury your pet in the backyard are the risk of spreading disease. The larger your pet, the more risk. There are great professional pet funeral and cremation services available as an alternative to burying your pet in the backyard. 

Is it ok to cry over a dead hamster?

It can be very emotional when your hamster dies and it’s important to take the time to come to terms with your loss. There are different stages of grieving and you will need to go through these to be able to move on. While some people get over the death of their hamster relatively quickly, others are taking longer and that’s absolutely fine. Everyone deals differently with loss and crying is a very normal part of grief. So if you feel tears well up, have a good cry. You might find it makes you feel much better afterwards and might then give you a chance to make space for memories and funny times you’ve had with your hamster.

Can you put a dead hamster in the freezer? 

You can put your hamster in an airtight bag or box and store it in the freezer for a long period of time. As long as your hamster stays frozen, their body won’t decompose and stays in the same condition. As soon as your hamster warms up, the body will continue decomposing. There are different laws in different states on how quickly you need to bury your hamster after death, so check these in your state as they might be much shorter than you expect.

If you store food in the same freezer as where you are keeping your hamster, make sure the container stays airtight and is placed away from food. The longer you keep your hamster in your freezer the longer you delay the inevitable, which is saying goodbye to your hamster. Sometimes it’s better just to get on with it so you can move on.

Should I hold my dying hamster? 

If your hamster is dying and you have a strong bond, then you might want to hold your hamster. If your hamster shows any sign of distress when you reach into the cage or when you try to pick your hamster up, then leave it however hard that is. You don’t want to make your hamsters final moments stressful.

If your hamster is happy for you to pick them up, then your cupped warm hands can provide comfort in those last moments and it can give you peace that you were there holding him or her one last time. Sometimes hamsters die in their owners hands where they just seem to fall asleep. This often happens when the hamster is old. You know your own hamster best. Keep them in mind rather than what you want and follow their lead.

Do you put your hamster in a coffin for burial? 

It’s one of those things you don’t often think about until it happens, what will you bury your hamster in? And as you didn’t prepare, you probably haven’t got a coffin waiting for your hamster’s final journey. Most people (quite rightly) choose to place their hamster in some kind of box rather than in a plastic bag or container, as this is better for the environment. A cardboard box is often chosen as well as small thin wooden craft or storage boxes. You can also choose to buy a strong wooden coffin which will protect your hamster’s body in their grave. There is no right or wrong.

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