Is the quality of your reptile's life deteriorating? Are you considering putting its suffering to an end?
This is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging decisions you can take, but if you want to euthanize your pet reptile, you need to do it humanely and painlessly.
We know this isn't easy, which is why we are here to help you make this task as quick and easy as possible. Read on to know how to euthanize a reptile at home.
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Method 1: Decapitating
Decapitating is separating the head of an animal from its body using a sharp object. This has been the method used for euthanization for a long time, but recent researches show that this is only suitable for mammals.
Reptiles can stay conscious for up to an hour after decapitation, so it’s not precisely a humane way to put your pet down.
Here are two options you can consider to make it easier:
1. Make the reptile unconscious before decapitating
- You can do this by stunning your pet using electric or captive bolt stunning methods. For electrical stunning, use tested, validated and calibrated equipment. Also, check the equipment to see if it is suitable for your pet's size, type, and species.
- Aside from this, Carbon dioxide or anesthesia can also be used. The only issue here is that reptiles tend to show resistance to inhalation. It can take a small lizard about 100 minutes to get anesthetized. Researches show that reptiles can resist Hypoxia for up to 27 hours.
- To stun it with something more familiar, simply strike the reptile with a hard object for immediate loss of consciousness. You can also kill the animal with the object, but we will discuss that method separately.
2. Use pithing after you have decapitated your pet
In this method, you insert a needle or a metal rod inside the reptile's head to ensure that the brain is well damaged. This step will make certain that there's no brain activity after the beheading and that it will not be painful.
The ideal way is first to stun, then decapitate, and finally pith the reptile to make the process faster and less painful.
Before you pick up your blade, restrain the animal to make sure that you won't miss the spot where the blade is supposed to hit.
Method 2: Freezing
Another way is to place your reptile in your domestic freezer and wait until it passes away. Use this method for reptiles that weigh less than one pound. This works because the inactivity in reptiles increases as the temperature gets lower.
For faster cooling, you can put it in an ice bath.
This is not recommended because experts say that pain neurons in reptiles are less affected by the cold than motor neurons. So, decreasing temperatures will result in the formation of crystals in your reptile's cells, and its skin and eyes will be in intense pain.
The working party of World Society for the Protection of Animals stated, "freezing is generally contraindicated since the formation of ice crystals on the skin and in the tissues of an animal is likely to cause pain or distress."
Freezing is a slow method, and you don't want your pet to suffer for an extended period.
Method 3: Hitting With A Rock
This is the fastest and easiest technique to euthanize your pet, but it can be challenging to do it right.
According to anapsid.org, you need to give your reptile a single, hard blow to the head to damage the brain. That way, the pain neurons won't send signals to the body, and it won't suffer longer than it needs to.
If you have a huge reptile such as a crocodile, you can use a gun to shoot it. Ensure that the animal is restrained and try to use only one shot to do the job. You need to destruct the brain, or else your reptile will find the pain too great to bear.
According to the research by the University of Florida, you should adjust the size of the bolt according to the species and the size of your reptile.
Before you go with this method, ensure that an expert is the one shooting the gun so that the shot won't miss.
Method 4: Use Of Gases
You can give your pet compressed CO2 from a cylinder. Don't use the CO2 here in any other way (e.g., Dry ice).
- Place your pet in a cage before you euthanize it.
- Then, remove the lid of the cage and replace it with the euthanasia lid.
- Deliver the carbon dioxide through the pressurized tank and keep a look at the reptile.
- Observe it for at least 60 seconds after its respiration has seemed to stop.
You can also use other gases such as chloroform, carbon monoxide, and methoxyflurane.
Remember the ‘Don’ts’:
- Don't try to drown your reptile. It will spend many hours underwater, and remember that some species can go into hibernation for months.
- Don't kill the animal by raising its body temperature or by dropping it in boiling water. It is a slow process, and your pet will feel intense pain.
- Don't dislocate the reptile's neck. It has been shown that crocodiles can remain conscious for up to 2 hours after a dislocation.
- Don't cut any major blood vessels in your pet’s neck. Reptiles have a slow metabolic rate.
- Don't put your pet anywhere other than its cage before you apply any of the methods above.
- Don't let children near any of the items you'll be using. It's best to euthanize in a separate room and clean up immediately after the animal has died.
- Don't euthanize your pet in an overcrowded terrarium. You might end up harming one of your other reptiles.
- When using chemical methods, don't leave the drug or any gas unattended in the cage.
If you want to euthanize reptile eggs, you can use sodium pentobarbitone for the larger ones and simple disruption for smaller eggs.
When To Euthanize A Reptile?
There are several reasons for this situation to come up.
Your pet may be suffering from a disease that might be affecting its quality of life. There have been cases where reptiles have been put down due to difficulties in swallowing or moving around.
Some reptiles are born with disabilities that make their life extremely difficult. The thing is irreversible health problems sometimes make death a better option for animals.
How Can You Prevent This From Happening?
You should be well aware of any behavioral changes in your reptile's daily activities to avoid this unpleasant situation.
Look for decreased appetite, altering sleeping patterns, weight loss, color change, and signs of aggressiveness.
If you start seeing these changes, take your reptile to a vet for a check-up to prevent the condition from getting severe in the future.
How Do You Know If The Euthanization Was Successful?
Now, this is where you need to be very careful! It is not always apparent that the reptile has been properly euthanized. You might have just made it unconscious, and it may end up starting to recover from it very slowly. This will obviously be painful, and your pet will suffer much more.
The same goes for drugs. If you give anesthesia in low quantities, the reptile may break it down slowly, and it'll stay unconscious for days, even weeks. So, remember to give a suitable amount of the drug to make the death faster.
You should reach out to a vet before euthanizing so that you have a professional to help you and let you know if the reptile is dead.
While all these methods may work, you should still take your reptile to a vet for an injection. The professional will euthanize it without a problem, and it may feel less burdensome for you. They will ensure that the reptile is dead and not just unconscious.
Take a look at this video for expert advice. You'll be able to understand this better.
To wrap up, you can euthanize your reptile by decapitating, freezing, or hitting it with a rock. If you choose to decapitate, stun it before doing so. After the beheading, pith it to ensure death.
The best way is to take your reptile to a vet and get it professionally euthanized.
Always use euthanasia as the final alternative. Don’t take any steps before getting your reptile checked by a vet. Keep in mind that you are doing this for your pet and that you’re trying to get the best possible outcome in an emergency.
After you have euthanized your pet, make sure it is dead and clean up the area.
We hope this article was helpful and that you’ll be able to euthanize your pet safely. Leave a comment if you have any questions!