Death and Reptiles | What Happens when their Human Dies?

Authored by Olimpia Martinotti of Much Ado About Chameleons & John F. Taylor of Reptile Apartment

Death and Reptiles | What happens when their Human dies?

Many reptiles have long life spans (tortoises 100+ years, many snakes and lizards 20+, etc.), and we never know what could happen to us. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Just a good precaution to take, part of thoughtful, responsible keeping.

Something uncomfortable for some is the following thought
‘One day I will no longer draw breath on this planet.’
Some believe they will return in some form or another, others that their spirits will rise to sit beside their chosen deity or God as the case may be.

What about your reptiles?

What’s Next for Your Reptile?

Making Preparations –

1. Put a will in place. Outline who should either inherit the reptiles or be entrusted to rehome them.

There are multiple ways to establish a will documenting what is to be done with your animals. You can draft it yourself (I wouldn’t recommend this there’s no doubt some very specific language needed). You can purchase software from most office supply stores or online. We’ve listed a few we found on Amazon.

Make Your Own Living Trust
Quicken WillMaker Plus 2017
Will Writer

The best option would be to hire an attorney to draw up the will itself as they will or should have the necessary knowledge.

2. Make instruction packets with information about each animal/species including care on each species, their very detailed information (species, gender, locality if applicable, etc.), fair resale price, and instructions on what the best channels for resale/rehoming are. In case whoever gets them is not reptile savvy, like a spouse or sibling.

Make sure the instructions are written for the layperson and not your herpetologist colleague you met on your last herp expedition. Many times we find ourselves with few nearby herp friends so it’s up to a family member or sibling who tolerates but might not be familiar with reptiles to handle the collection as it were and we want to make this as easy as possible. They are grieving or worried about their loved one; the last thing they need is a manifesto on reptile care.

3. Suggest a list of rescues you trust, worst-case scenario. Perhaps the designated family member lives in an apartment and absolutely can’t take on your 70-lb sulcata tortoise at the time of your death. Make it easy to immediately place the animal into a proper permanent/temporary home that can meet its needs so there is no lapse in care or routine.

If you’re a breeder, and or have any sized scale operation where you have more than a few animals to think about; who is properly prepared to take them?

This is especially true for those in the operation of keeping venomous animals, because of their nature these animals will be much more difficult to re-home.

Make sure to plan ahead not just for you but for your pets as well. No one wants to see their loved ones abandoned.

Making the necessary preparations now for how to handle your reptile collection will make the task much easier when the time comes and those responsible for your collection afterwards will be thankful.

LifeHacker Author Christine Colby has a great piece on Death and Dying. You’re Going to Die, Here’s How to Deal With It