Rabbits are one of the best-loved animals, wild or domestic. Their curious manic demeanor and adorable furry bodies tug at our heartstrings with abandon.
But what do you do in the case of a dead rabbit? Pet owners want to give their rabbits a dignified burial.
Animal lovers who sadly find a wild rabbit dead outdoors will want to dispose of it safely.
In the following article, we’re answering all your questions about how to dispose of a dead rabbit.
How Do I Confirm That The Rabbit Is Dead?
This is the first crucial question to resolve. Anyone will naturally think that an unmoving, limp, and perhaps discolored rabbit is dead. But many rabbits can trick us into believing they’re dead when they’re really not.
When would an unmoving rabbit not be dead? There are several conditions in which rabbits have ‘risen from the dead.’ In freezing temperatures, rabbits can go into a kind of hibernation that appears to look like death.
Also, rabbits that look dead might be suffering from a serious disease. If the rabbit is wild, stay away. Don’t attempt to rescue the animal for a vet to examine. If the rabbit is a pet, you may consider visiting your local rabbit specialist for help.
The best way to ensure the rabbit is dead is to monitor these signs:
- Emptied bowels: rabbits, like all mammals, will defecate at death
- No pulse: to check a pulse in a pet rabbit, press the artery on the inner thigh
- No breathing: use the tried-and-true method of placing a finger under the nose
Step-By-Step Guide Of How To Dispose Of A Dead Rabbit
Once you’ve determined that the rabbit is deceased, it’s time to move on to disposal. Before we move on to the steps, a couple of reminders.
Before you even begin to dispose of a dead rabbit, keep in mind that rabbits can carry certain diseases that are near-fatal to humans.
Of course, it is exceedingly rare that you’ll catch a disease, like Tularemia, from a dead rabbit. There are about 300 cases per year in the US.
Some rabbit-borne diseases are transmitted from skin contact. Others, like Tularemia, can pass over to humans through the air. Be sure you have hand and face protection.
Cover Your Hands And Face
Whether the rabbit that you’re overlooking was your beloved pet bunny or an ordinary wild rabbit that happened to die in your yard, you should shield your hands from the body.
Close-fitting plastic or nitrile gloves are the best options if you plan to pick the body up from the ground. However, a double-layer of plastic bags or garbage bags will do in a pinch.
Some rabbits carry airborne infectious diseases. In other words, humans can catch them by breathing in the rabbit’s organic material. Stray fur or blood particles, for instance.
To reduce your chance of exposure, always cover your mouth with a mask when handling a dead rabbit. Ideally, you’ll cover your eyes with glasses too.
Examine The Body
In the case of pet rabbits, there won’t usually be any outward sign of struggle on the body. Most pet rabbits die of old age or complications from rabbit-borne illnesses.
Yet, any dead rabbit you find outside could potentially hide some dangers on its body. A cat or some other predator might have left bleeding injuries on the body, for instance.
You’ll also want to check if the rabbit has signs of disease on it. Keep your eyes open for foam around its mouth, irregular growths under the skin, or hair loss. These can point to disease.
At any rate, the purpose of examining the body is to learn as much information as possible about the body. If you notice any of the above markings, make sure you’re covered.
Retrieve The Body
With your hands covered, select a suitable container for the animal. Large plastic bags layered over one another are a great solution. Zip-closure bags are also excellent.
Approach the rabbit with your bags, ready to grasp and close around the body. The goal is to reduce the amount of time you’re within three to five feet of the carcass.
If you’re disposing of a pet rabbit, it’s still ideal to wrap the body in a plastic coating before burial. Some rabbit owners have taken issue with this, but it’s a matter of public safety that you responsibly protect everyone in the family by using plastic wrap. It’s more humane.
Decide How You Want To Dispose Of The Rabbit
Before you move ahead with the disposal, you should always check your local regulations. Contact your state Wildlife agencies to make sure it’s legal to bury an animal in your yard.
If the animal is wild, you should still check with state and local rules about animal disposal. Why? Dead animals can endanger water supplies, attract dangerous species, and harm garbage removers and trash dumps.
If your beloved pet rabbit passed away, there are several options for you to dispose of the body respectfully.
When rabbits pass away in the care of a vet, it’s best to let them handle the funeral arrangements. They will cremate the animal professionally and thoughtfully.
Another way to honorably send off a pet rabbit is with a home burial. Below, we’ll cover the basics behind rabbit burials.
If the dead rabbit under your care was wild, then the best way to dispose of it is in the garbage disposal. We recommend using a secure plastic container to house the body.
It’s just as well to dispose of a dead rabbit in a simple plastic bag. Make sure you wrap the body in multiple layers because the scent will attract scavengers and insects.
Once you’ve determined that you’re going to get rid of the rabbit carcass in the trash, consider the following:
- How long until the garbage gets picked up? If longer than a week, you can consider freezing the animal (fully bagged up) until the pick-up day.
- Do scavengers regularly infiltrate your trash? Consider disposing of the animal at a local dump.
- Will you forget what is in the bag? Clearly label it.
- Could children or other vulnerable people accidentally open the container? Keep the animal’s body in a safe place until trash day.
- Will your neighbors complain? Ask beforehand to reduce misunderstandings.
If any of the above is possible, be mindful of the repercussions and don’t hide the carcass away. Better to be open and follow local laws.
After you’ve done away with the rabbit body, it’s time to be careful while removing your protection. Gloves and any other hand coverings should go in the trash.
You should also throw away masks, nose protection, and any other disposable garments. The risk of contracting an airborne disease from a rabbit drops after you throw the body away, but bacteria can still cling to protective material.
Remove your clothes and wash them as soon as possible. Avoid commingling the dirty clothes with the rest of the laundry. Wash your hands and face.
Finally, return to the site of the rabbit body. Inspect the ground for blood, fur, flesh, or any other evidence of the dead animal. You don’t want your pets sniffing around the area.
Oddly, one of the most common ways that Americans contract the airborne disease Tularemia is by running a lawnmower over the sites of dead rabbits. The machine throws up fur and blood particles into the air after driving over the remains. Make sure you clean up the lawn.
Funerals For Rabbits
Of course, there’s something undignified about disposing of a rabbit in the garbage bin. No doubt you’ll want to say your final words to a pet rabbit in a special way.
First, you can cremate a rabbit. The ceremony and the cremation itself will be costly, but under some circumstances, your pet deserves a fitting end.
Rabbit burials are much more common than cremations. To ensure you’re doing the right thing legally and environmentally, contact your local Wildlife Agency or Board of Health.
Most states allow the burial of small pets in a backyard. Still, check with the authorities before you dig the grave. You don’t want to have to dig your pet up again.
Placing your beloved bunny in a wood casket is advised. Dig the grave at least 50 feet from the residence to avoid unpleasant odors. Don’t bury a rabbit anywhere near a water supply.
We recommend digging to three feet. Though most rabbits will fit in a two-foot grave, the deeper the enclosure, the more secure the body will be from surface disruptions.
Rabbits have been a symbol of freedom, devotion, and pure joy for centuries. They have been our pets for over 1500 years. Yet, any day you encounter a dead rabbit is tough.
Everyone wants to dispose of an animal’s body respectfully. But it’s just as important to put your safety first before handling a wild animal.
We don’t want to think about our bodies dying and accumulating bacteria and other harmful things, but they do. And in the case of dead rabbits, we have to be careful handling them.
Hopefully, our article on how to dispose of a dead rabbit has answered all your questions. The disposal process only takes a few minutes, but it’s worthwhile to do the research to do it right.
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