Watch This Deer Decompose in 5 Days!

If your stomach is weak, I recommend not watching this. However, if you’re at all intrigued by how amazing nature really is, then I encourage you to watch this. It’s pretty incredible.

Stages of Animal Decomposition

One of the more remarkable things to take away from this is that you can see many of the stages of decomposition in this short video. Let’s dive into a few of them here and how fast they happened. It’ll help you interpret what’s happening on random carcasses a bit better.

Fresh Stage

The fresh stage starts as soon as the heart stops. As blood oxygen decreases, the PH decreases and cells start breaking down. The blood turns bluish-purple, which can change the body color as well, especially where the fur is not covering it. Microbes start on the body here in a process called putrefaction. That leads to the next phase – the bloat phase

Bloat Phase of Deer Decomposition

The Bloat stage gives the first sign that microbes are underway decomposing the deer. Anaerobic metabolism takes place and leads to the production of hydrogen sulfide, CO2, methane, and nitrogen. These gases make the body slowly start to swell. You can see this happening in the deer time-lapse. Maggots hatch and begin to feed. At some point the gasses purge and there is fluid loss from the animal. This is when the strong odors begin.

Active Decay

The period of active decay is characterized by a lot of deer meat lost to maggot consumption. In this case you can see the maggots systematically eating through the tissue. This only took a couple days for the entire deer to be devoured. At this stage there is often a purging of liquids. Sometimes they create a CDI – cadaver decomposition island. GROSS.

At the end of active decomposition, the maggots start a mass migration away from the body so they can dig underground and pupate. This is when this time-lapse finished. You can see the filmmaker here pick up a huge pile of maggots that are leaving the area.

Advanced decay

At this stage there isn’t much cadaver left, but microbes continue to eat away at any remaining organic material. Often the vegetation around the body cavity will die because of a change in pH.

Dry Remains

All that remains of the deer or cadaver at this stage is dry skin, cartilage and bones. As the bones sit in the sun, they’ll turn more white – through a process of bleaching.


About The Author
Rob Nelson

Rob Nelson

Rob has worked as a biologist and wildlife educator since 2001 with the goal of reconnecting people with nature. While in grad school in Hawaii he studied ecology and as a side job he spent years working part time leading nature tours – teaching about the wildlife, the land, and the natural history that made the islands so unique. These were the first sparks that would lead to what is now StoneAgeMan.