There is no quick answer to where animals die since it depends on a range of factors. Factors like the type of animal, whether it is a pet or wildlife, how it dies, and its typical range all play an important role in the answer.
Those Who Die from Accidents
Animals who die due to accidents, such as being hit by a car or falling from a height, will frequently die either at the site of the accident or somewhere nearby, depending on the extent of the injuries. Obviously, if an animal is hit by a car while on the road and dies upon impact, it will die on the road. If the animal is severely injured but can still move, then it may get off the road and go somewhere nearby where it then dies.
Wild Animals in Your Home
Although not always the case, it is most common for animals within your home or another building to die in a hidden spot. In this case, they are most likely to die in their nest, which will be tucked away in a wall, in the attic, behind furniture, or in another hidden area. This comes from two factors. First, the animal likely spends a lot of time there anyway, so the chances that it would die from natural causes there are higher than it happening on a trip for food.
Additionally, if you have poisoned the animals in your home or they feel sick, they are more likely to go to their nest as this is a comforting, cozy place. There is disagreement as to whether or not animals know when they are about to die, but it is commonly agreed that they feel most comfortable in their nests, so they would go there if they feel sick. If that sickness leads to death, then they will die in their burrows.
It is possible for an animal in your home to die in the open or in a hidden spot that is part of its typical pathway not its nest, but this tends to be less common.
When it comes to pets, the circumstances regarding the death play a significant role in where they die. If their humans notice that something is wrong, they will likely take them to the vet. In the case of serious conditions, the vet may suggest euthanasia, which would mean the pet dies at the vet. Or the pet owners may take the pet home if it is not in too much pain and let it die peacefully at home.
There is no clear trend in where pets go to die and once again, there is no consensus on whether they know if they are going to die soon. Some will go into cozy places so their humans do not have to see them weak while others prefer to be with the comfort of their humans.
Of course, pets who die due to an accident, like being hit by a car, may also do so at the accident site, in this case the road.
Deaths in the Wild
There is no real pattern to where animals die when in the wild. Although there have been myths of sick wildlife going to a particular spot or “graveyard” to die, this is has never been confirmed so it is not likely a trend.
The cause of death will obviously play a significant role in where the animal dies as well. If a predator kills an animal, then it dies wherever the predator attacked. If it dies of old age or illness, this will likely happen in its nest or burrow.
They Do Not Go Off to Die
It is a common misconception that when a wild (or even domesticated) animal is about to die, it will go off to do so alone. In fact, there have been various studies and scientific reports that confirm this does not happen.
Additionally, in many cases when it seems as if an animal goes off to die, its separation would be for another reason, such as poor coordination or an inability to see because of the future cause of death.
What Happens to Dead Animals?
If humans do not do something to move the dead animal, then it will simply start to decay wherever it is. In nature, it is common for predators and scavengers to eat the meat from the animal, with maggots and other creatures also playing a role. Scavengers may also carry some of the bones with them as they take bits of meat, leading to the bones being scattered. Other animals may eat the bones.
In the case of wild animals that die in hidden spots, like a burrowing animal that dies in its burrow, then scavengers may not be able to find it. In this case, insects, maggots, and microorganisms will break down the animal’s tissue over time. The common theme is that dead animals become food for other animals or eventually turn into nutrients that feed plants.