Are dead animals biodegradable? (5 precautions to bury dead animals) 

The article will detail the biodegradability status of dead animals while also covering topics such as:

  • Is it okay to put dead animals in trash cans?
  • Is it okay to flush dead animals down the drain?
  • What is the best way to dispose of dead animals?
  • What precautions need to be taken?
  • Should dead animals be incinerated?

Are dead animals biodegradable?

Yes, dead animals are biodegradable because they contain natural and organic material that can be broken down into simpler materials by the action of microbes. 

Biodegradation can be introduced as the breakdown that is caused by the action of microbes and as a result, waste is degraded into simpler material that can become part of nature again. 

However, the process of biodegradation is not that simple. In order for microbes to break down the waste, there should be some organic and natural content that the microbes can feast on and ingest. 

Dead animals contain biomolecules and the bodies of dead animals are all about natural and organic content. Therefore, dead animals are indeed biodegradable. 

Have you ever seen a stinking dead body of any animal along the highway or in your neighbourhood? The stink or smell represents that the body is being degraded by the action of microbes. It usually takes about four to five days for dead bodies to be degraded by microbes apart from the bones of course which may require several years. 

What to do when you see dead animals along the highway?

This question must have come into the minds of many because it is very likely that all of us would have seen a dead animal by the roadside or in the neighbourhood. However, since you had no idea what to do, you probably did not do anything about it. 

This section will cover what to do when you see a dead animal. The first thing that you should do is to contact and inform the local authorities. The handling of dead animals or carcasses must be left in the hands of experts as amateur handling can lead to microbial infections or contamination. 

If the local wildlife authorities are not responsive, then the best thing you can do is to bury the dead animal as it will ensure no health hazard is emanated to the nearby population. Once you bury the animal, the rest will be done by mother nature. 

Is it okay to put dead animals in trash cans?

Although it is not recommended to put dead animals in trash cans, there are certain exceptions that you can enjoy. The basic idea here is that dead animals have various microbes in the process of degrading it and unsustainable exposure can lead to health issues and health hazards. 

However, if there is a small pet that weighs less than 15 pounds, you can put that animal in the trash can but only after placing it in a good-quality plastic bag. Also, it is asserted that you must clearly mention and label the bags as ‘dead animals’ so that the authorities may take necessary actions. 

However, this option can not be considered sustainable because plastic bags are non-biodegradable material and while the dead animals will degrade; plastic bags will not. Plastic bags will remain in landfills for many years and this will create problems for waste management issues. 

Therefore, although it may be possible to put the dead animals in trash cans (weighing less than 15 pounds), it is better to bury the animals as there would not be a use for plastic bags in this case and this will be more sustainable as compared to its counterpart. 

Is it okay to drain animals down the drain?

It is not advisable to flush animals (even fish) down the drain because there are many reservations and concerns that follow such as possible damage to the septic and sewer system.

It is obvious that the sewer and the septic systems were not made for flushing fish and therefore, fish may harm and pose damage to the septic system. The best thing here as well as to properly bury the fish or use plastic bags for their disposal. This, however, will necessitate the use of fossil-derived, non-biodegradable material (plastics). 

However, some people also claim that flushing down small fish is not that much of a problem since small fish will not cause any disruption or obstruction in the septic system. While this may be true, care should be imparted in the case of larger animals and large-sized fish. 

What is the best way of disposing of dead animals?

When it comes to the best way of disposing of dead animals, there are two pathways that can be considered:

  • Contact the local wildlife agency, local police department, and local health department to have dead animals disposed of by the professionals 
  • If there are no local authorities in action, then you can take the paddle in your hands and actually bury the animals. This is the next best thing to do. 

The catch here is that dead animals may pose health hazards and health risks to people and life nearby. They also cause bad smells around and may obstruct everyday activities. 

Therefore, it is best to create a segregation between the dead animals and the environment and bury the best way to do it that also does not require the use of plastic bags. Be sure to bury the carcasses at least three to four feet below the soil. 

What precautions need to be taken? (5 precautions) 

While burying the dead animals, there are some precautions that need to be taken from your end and the precautions include:

  • Always bury the dead animals and carcasses three to four feet below the ground 
  • Always wear PPE while burying the dead animals
  • Be sure to wear good-quality gloves while handling the carcasses. In case of contact, wash the contact area adequately 
  • Be careful not to bury the dead animals nearby water reservoirs because this can lead to groundwater pollution and contamination 
  • Be careful not to damage any utility power lines while burying the dead animals as this can lead to problems and complications 

Should dead animals be cremated?

Yes, dead animals can be cremated, however; this is not the best thing to do in terms of environmental sustainability. When carcasses are cremated, harmful gases and fumes are released that cause environmental degradation and global warming. 

Many commercial facilities and localities offer cremation services. However, you may also need to pay for the cremation services. The plus point here is that when dead animals are cremated, the chances of microbial exposure are reduced to almost zero. 


It is concluded that dead animals are biodegradable because they are made from natural and organic material which can be ingested by microbes. 

Although dead animals can be put in trash cans (if properly labelled and under the weight 15 pounds); the best way to dispose of dead animals is to contact the local authorities or bury them. 

When it comes to the burying of dead animals, there are certain precautions that need to be followed (discussed in the article) so that the health and the environment is not put at any risk. 


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