4 Safe Ways To Dispose Of A Dead Ferret (Respectfully) 9 min read

Unfortunately, ferrets only have a lifespan of 5 – 8 years, and owners are responsible for their final resting place. Whilst this can be tough emotionally, it’s important to act quickly and to follow a specific process to avoid breaking the law or contaminating water supplies. 

Within this article we explain the best and most respectful ways of disposing of your dead ferret, and what you should avoid doing.

Here’s What To Do With A Dead Ferret: 

Ferrets are commonly disposed of by burial. If buried, it’s important to plan the burial site away from water sources and to use a biodegradable box. Other methods include cremation and sanitation department pick up. Most states have a law that says you must dispose of dead animals within 24 hours.    

What Are the Best Methods of Disposing of a Dead Ferret?

Ferrets have a lifespan of 5–8 years, which is much shorter than a cat’s or a dog’s. They have a tendency to develop tumors and can suffer from gastrointestinal problems in old age.

If your ferret was not sick with an infectious disease before they passed, the remains are generally harmless. However, you should still wear gloves when handling the body.

An animal’s carcass can be the breeding ground for bacteria even if it’s discovered a few hours after death. So it’s best to err on the side of caution.

If the ferret had urine or fecal matter on its fur, you can clean it before proceeding to the next step. This is a natural occurrence because the muscles relax at the time of death and aren’t able to hold in the waste.

Wrap the dead ferret in a piece of cloth like an old bed sheet and then put it inside a plastic bag that you can tightly secure. What you choose to do with the body next is up to you and your local codes when it comes to dead animal disposal.

1. Burial 

This is the oldest known method to dispose of a dead body. It’s also the easiest and the least expensive.

All you have to do is get an eco-friendly biodegradable box, lay your ferret’s remains in it, and dig a pit about 3–5 feet deep into the soil of your backyard, then gently place the box and cover it with soil.

You can also mark the burial site with stones to avoid digging into the grave by accident and to prevent other pets or scavengers from digging up the box and carcass.

It’s wise to check with your local authorities whether this is legal in your state or area since some jurisdictions have been known to fine backyard burials.

Even if it’s completely legal in your area, make sure the burial isn’t anywhere near underground water sources. This can cause contamination and may get someone seriously ill.

The safest option if you opt for burial is to find a local pet cemetery. They know how to safely dispose of the body and will take the job off your hands at such a difficult time.

Some owners take comfort in being able to visit a deceased pet’s burial site.

2. Cremation

Cremation is a great option if your ferret was sick before passing away since the process gets rid of the pathogens that might cause illness in other pets. 

You can get your pet cremated in a communal cremation, which includes other people’s pets, and the resulting ashes are disposed of by the crematorium.

If you’d like a more private affair, pet crematoriums offer individual services as well, and you can keep your ferret’s ashes in a memorial urn afterward. However, this is a more costly option that can run you back about $300–$500.

Vets can recommend a trusted pet crematorium, or you can search online for “pet crematorium near me” for the best results.

Being able to scatter ashes may offer some pet owners comfort.

3. Taxidermy 

Some pet owners feel like owning a part of their pet in the form of taxidermied remains might ease the pain. This option is not for everyone, but it works for some people.

Veterinarians usually have taxidermist connections and can point you to someone who can get the job done. This option is probably the most expensive, starting at about $1000.

You should be prepared for this, storing your ferret’s remains in cold storage (like an icebox or a freezer) right after they pass away to slow down the decomposition process.

Taxidermists can preserve fur whereas eyes are normally made from glass.

4. Sanitation Department Pickup

If you live in an apartment in a big city, you might not have access to burial grounds. Or if your budget doesn’t allow for other options, most sanitation departments have contact numbers you can call to arrange for a pickup of your dead ferret.

Just wrap the ferret’s carcass in a plastic bag, put it inside a shoebox with “dead ferret” written on it and leave it near or inside the garbage can. 

If pickup dates are late, you can store the carcass somewhere cold so it doesn’t decompose and smell before the sanitation department arrives.

What Shouldn’t You Do With a Dead Ferret?

Faced with the death of a beloved pet, some people freeze and fail to react in the correct way. There are some things you shouldn’t do with a dead ferret that can pose certain health risks to you, your family, and your other pets.

Keep the Ferret’s Carcass for Longer than 24 Hours

Most states have a law that it’s the owner’s responsibility to get rid of the dead animal’s body within the first 24 hours after its death (or discovery). This applies to farm and service animals, as well as household pets.

If you had been out of town and discovered your ferret dead inside its cage, make sure you act fast and dispose of the carcass to avoid further decomposition.

Bury the Dead Ferret Near a Groundwater Source

Dead animals can be the host of multiple pathogens that multiply rapidly, especially if the animal had been sick before passing.

Groundwater can be the main source of water for many areas. If your backyard has sandy soil, decomposition byproducts can seep into the groundwater and pollute it.

If your backyard happens to be near a well, try somewhere else like a neighbor’s yard. If you can’t find anywhere near you where groundwater isn’t a problem, a pet cemetery is the best option.

Bury the Dead Ferret in a Shallow Grave

If you have a pet cat or dog that is allowed to play in the backyard, or if you live somewhere with lots of wildlife like raccoons and opossums, steer away from shallow graves.

Curious or hungry animals can smell remains and dig them up, which will get your pet dog or cat sick. If it’s a scavenger, it will cause a huge mess in your yard and may even invite more scavengers to help dig up the carcass.

Dig at least 3–5 feet and place stones over the ferret’s biodegradable casket to avoid this problem from occurring. You can also place a marker over the grave or plant a small shrub to avoid accidentally digging the same area in the future.

Burn the Dead Ferret’s Carcass Yourself

Bonfires in residential areas are mostly legal except in some areas that place some restrictions on the practice. Aside from the expected dangers of fine particle pollution, they should never be used to incinerate the carcass of a dead ferret.

Burning the carcass of a dead animal in open air can cause smoke and unpleasant odors to spread to neighboring houses. 

That’s not to mention the possibility of causing property damage if the wind picks up and the fire becomes uncontrollable.

Stick to the safe option of handing the carcass to a pet crematorium, and you’ll get your ferret’s ashes in a clean and hassle-free way.

Leave the Carcass Out in the Open

A dead pet is a devastating loss, but it can also be burdensome if you don’t know what to do with the body. However, this doesn’t mean you can dump the body out in the open and call it a day.

Aside from the possibility of being spotted and fined for doing so, you shouldn’t resort to this option because it’s not safe. Wild animals can get to the body and tear it apart, coming back with bits and pieces of it.

If the ferret was sick before dying, the pathogens causing the illness can spread to animals that find and sniff the body, causing an outbreak. 

And as previously discussed, the dead body can spread many other diseases just by being out in the open, especially on hot summer days.

If you have no way of disposing of the body, just call your local sanitation department and ask them to pick up the carcass, they’ll be happy to help. This is a low or no-cost, safe option to have someone take the body off your hands.


Having a ferret die is a sad but expected part of having them for a pet. After all, they have a shorter lifespan than most other animals taken as pets.

It’s important to know how to dispose of a dead ferret in a safe and fast manner. Burial, cremation, taxidermy, or even asking the sanitation department to pick it up are all good ways to dispose of the carcass.

However, you should avoid groundwater sources, shallow grave burials, burning the carcass in a bonfire, or leaving the dead ferret out in the open to avoid spreading disease and pollution.