What To Do When Your Hamster Dies (9 Steps)

Hamsters are adorable, but sadly, these fuzzy animals live only for two to three years. Losing your beloved pet hamster is always heartbreaking. After taking a moment to mourn the loss of your furry baby, you must ensure that you dispose of the remains safely and according to any law that might be in place.

Here are nine steps that describe what you should do when your hamster dies:

  1. Wear a pair of disposable gloves and a face mask.
  2. Place your hamster in a sealed plastic bag.
  3. Check to find out if you can bury your pet at home.
  4. Call the utility company to check if it is okay to dig.
  5. Choose a spot to bury your pet.
  6. Bury your hamster.
  7. Mark the grave.
  8. Wash your pet’s cage, accessories, and toys.
  9. Wash your hands.

Burying is a convenient, inexpensive, and humane way of disposing of the remains of your pet hamster. However, you can also cremate your pet or throw the remains in the compost bin.

What To Do When Your Hamster Dies

In this article, I will describe the steps of burying your pet hamster, cremating it, and disposing of the remains in the compost bin.

What To Do When Your Hamster Dies
What To Do When Your Hamster Dies

1. Wear a Pair of Disposable Gloves and a Face Mask

Wear a pair of disposable waterproof gloves and a face mask before handling your pet’s body. You may not know, but your hamster might have had an infection. While the chances of you catching anything from your hamster are low, it’s better not to take chances.

Read How To Take Care of a Hamster

2. Place Your Hamster in a Sealed Plastic Bag

Put your hamster in a plastic bag and preserve it in a cool place to delay decomposition while you decide what you want to do with the body. A zipped top bag is ideal. However, you must dispose of the remains within 24 hours.

Burying your hamster is an inexpensive and very convenient way of disposing of the tiny body. However, there are other ways of disposing of the remains:

Cremating Your Hamster

Cremating your pet is usually the most expensive way to dispose of their remains. You can contact a veterinarian or a pet cemetery that provides cremation services for a fee.

You can choose to have your pet cremated along with other animals. This is the least expensive option.

You have to pay more if you want your pet to be cremated alone so that you can have the ashes. The veterinary office and the pet cemetery usually have containers you can choose to take home the ashes in.

You can also buy the Fovere Keepsake Urn for Ashes available on Amazon.com. This small memorial urn is made from sturdy aluminum and has a tight screw-top lid. The lid has space for a candle that you can light to honor your pet’s life.

Small Urns for Human Ashes and Pets - Keepsake Urn for Ashes - Decorative Mini White Candle Cremation Urn - Unique Design Keepsake Urn - Beautiful Modern Memorial Urn for Humans, Cats and Dogs

If you don’t want to keep the ashes, check how you can legally dispose of the remains. In some places, you can scatter the ashes in your garden, a park or wooded area, or in the river or a lake.

However, you cannot dispose of it on someone else’s property without the owner’s permission.

Read Why Did My Hamster Die?

Putting the Remains in the Compost Bin

If you have an outdoor compost bin, you can dispose of the remains of your hamster in it. It will warm your heart knowing that the remains of your beloved pet will enrich the soil in your yard and give life to your flowers, fruits, and veggies.

However, keep the following in mind when putting the remains of your hamster in the compost bin:

  • Use a closed compost bin. Ensure that it is covered securely on all sides and has a tight lid.
  • If you have constructed the walls of the composting area with pellets, ensure that you line the underside and the top with a wire net that will prevent rodents and other animals from rummaging through the waste material.
  • After putting the body of your hamster in the bin, cover it with shredded newspaper or cardboard, straw, or kitchen or yard waste to mask the odor of decomposing flesh.

Disposing of the Remains in the Garbage Bin

While it may not be the most ceremonious way to dispose of your pet, you could put it in the garbage bin.

You must check with your city or local governing body and find out if it is legal to dispose of the remains of a pet in the garbage bin. If this is allowed, ensure that you comply with the rules regarding how to pack the body.

Read How Often Do You Change Hamster Bedding?

3. Check To Find Out if You Can Bury Your Pet at Home

There are no national laws in the US for burying pets at home. However, you must check with your city because regulations vary across jurisdictions.

In New York State, commercial animal shelters, but not individual pet owners, must abide by burial laws.

California has no laws regarding burying pets at home. However, within the state of California, it is illegal in San Francisco to bury your animal within 100 feet (30.48 meters) of a public street or water source or within 500 feet (152.4 meters) of someone else’s property without their permission.

If burying your hamster at home is not allowed in your jurisdiction, contact a veterinarian or a pet cemetery to arrange for a burial.

You can research pet cemeteries on the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories website.

You have to pay a fee based on the type of burial service you desire and maintaining the grave. Having your pet buried in a specific location or inside a special casket will cost you more.

Read Why Is My Hamster Itching?

4. Call the Utility Company To Check if It Is Okay To Dig

You should call 811 or visit your state’s 811 center’s website before digging in your backyard. Request them to mark the approximate location of buried utilities around your house so that you do not accidentally hit an underground utility line with your shovel and damage or rupture it.

5. Choose a Spot To Bury Your Pet

Keep the following pointers in mind while choosing a spot to bury your pet hamster:

  • Bury as far away as possible from an underground utility line.
  • Choose a site that is not near a water feature in your backyard.
  • Choose a location that will not be dug up soon. For instance, do not bury your hamster near an annual flower bed.

Find a spot where you can dig deep without expending too much effort. For instance, do not choose an area where the ground is rocky.

Read How To Get Your Hamster To Like You

6. Bury Your Hamster

Before burying your pet, you might want to carry out a private ceremony to mourn the death of your furry baby. A ceremony can help you attain closure and come to terms with your loss.

Below are some tips to help you bury your pet hamster:

Place Your Pet in a Biodegradable Container

Remove your pet from the plastic bag if you have used one. Plastic tends to leach and deposit toxic substances in the ground. Instead, use a biodegradable container.

You can use a container made of cardboard or cloth. You can place a favorite toy along with your pet.

You may also be able to find biodegradable pet caskets at a pet store or online. Whether your pet is a dwarf hamster or a Syrian hamster, you can usually find the appropriate size. These containers are made of bamboo, corn starch, and rice husks and will degrade within three to five years after being buried.

Dig a Deep Hole

Your jurisdiction might have rules that specify how deep the hole should be. If not, dig a hole that is at least three feet (0.91 meters) deep. This ensures scavenging animals are not attracted to the odor of decomposing flesh.

Lay your pet in the hole. Cover with stones so that animals and birds cannot disturb the burial site. Some jurisdictions require that you put lime on top of the body.

Fill Up the Hole With Dirt and Throw Away the Gloves

Ensure that you pack in the soil tightly. Mound more soil on top of the grave because the ground will settle over time, and you don’t want your hamster’s grave being unearthed.

Also, make sure that you safely dispose of the gloves you used to handle your hamster.

Read Why Is My Hamster Not Eating?

7. Mark the Grave

Mark the grave with a piece of stone or a slab of concrete to create a memorial space that you or your kids can visit to remember your furry friend.

Marking the grave also ensures that you do not accidentally disturb the burial site while digging around the yard. 

what to do when my hamster dies
what to do when my hamster dies

8. Wash Your Pet’s Cage, Accessories, and Toys

Here’s how you should clean your pet’s cage:

  1. Wear a pair of disposable waterproof gloves and a face mask. Use soap, hot water, and a disinfectant to clean the cage. You can use bleach or vinegar for a more thorough clean.
  2. Clean your pet’s toys, water bowls, and dens with the soapy solution, and then disinfect these. Dispose of the bedding and the straw. You can throw these into the compost bin.
  3. Ensure that your hamster’s toys, dens, and water bowls do not have chemical residue on them and are thoroughly dry before you reuse them with another hamster. Dispose of the gloves and the face mask.

Read How to Find an Escaped Hamster

9. Wash Your Hands

Finally, you should wash your hands thoroughly with an antiseptic solution after burying your pet and cleaning the cage.

Ensure that you change your clothes immediately and soak the ones you were wearing in a soapy solution before washing them. This simply ensures that you are as safe and as clean as possible after the experience.

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Key Takeaways

Saying goodbye to a pet is heartrending. Amid the pain, you must ensure that you dispose of the remains safely and humanely.

Here’s what you should keep in mind when you want to bury your pet hamster:

  • Wear gloves and a face mask before handling your pet.
  • Ensure that it is legal to bury your pet in your backyard.
  • Bury your hamster in a deep hole away from a water source.
  • Wash your pet’s cage and all accessories it has been in contact with.
  • Wash your hands afterward.