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There's no reason that the Horcrux in the snake should have been destroyed with just lopping off her head. If that were possible, then any other sort of spell would be able to destroy them. Instead they needed Basilisk venom or Fiendfyre.

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    They used the sword of griffindor which had absorbed Basilisk venom. This was also sufficient to destroy the locket. Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 17:51

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The basilisk venom is in the sword

“The sword can destroy Horcruxes! Goblin-made blades imbibe only that which strengthen them — Harry, that sword’s impregnated with basilisk venom!”

— Deathly Hallows, chapter 15 (The Goblin’s Revenge)

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    It's possible that OP only saw the film. Was that fact included?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 18:42
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    The question doesn't specify the film
    – Mary
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 18:43
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    And while that's true, a solid answer would address both, in my humble opinion
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 18:44
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Other answers mention that the sword of Gryffindor indeed was one of the few things that could destroy Horcruxes (due to the imbibed Basilisk venom. While this is true, I don't think it is necessary to answer the question.

The official statement of how to destroy a Horcrux is given by Hermione in Chapter Six of Deathly Hallows:

“No,” said Ron, before Harry could answer. “So does it say how to destroy Horcruxes in that book?”

“Yes,” said Hermione, now turning the fragile pages as if examining rotting entrails, “because it warns Dark wizards how strong they have to make the enchantments on them. From all that I’ve read, what Harry did to Riddle’s diary was one of the few really foolproof ways of destroying a Horcrux.”

“What, stabbing it with a basilisk fang?” asked Harry.

“Oh well, lucky we’ve got such a large supply of basilisk fangs, then,” said Ron. “I was wondering what we were going to do with them.”

“It doesn’t have to be a basilisk fang,” said Hermione patiently. “It has to be something so destructive that the Horcrux can’t repair itself. Basilisk venom only has one antidote, and it’s incredibly rare —”

“— phoenix tears,” said Harry, nodding.

“Exactly,” said Hermione. “Our problem is that there are very few substances as destructive as basilisk venom, and they’re all dangerous to carry around with you. That’s a problem we’re going to have to solve, though, because ripping, smashing, or crushing a Horcrux won’t do the trick. You’ve got to put it beyond magical repair.

(My emphasis)

The key here is to put the Horcrux capsule beyond magical repair. With most such capsules there are very few ways to do so, one of which is Basilisk venom, and another which is Fiendfyre (both used in the books to destroy Horcruxes).

However, living beings can be destroyed beyond repair much more easily than objects. As Dumbledore said in Chapter Thirty-Six of Goblet of Fire, "[n]o spell can reawaken the dead". Thus, if a Horcrux was housed in a living being, all that would be necessary would be to kill the living being.

This is, in fact, evident from Harry's instructions to Neville in Chapter Thirty-Four of Deathly Hallows:

“No,” Harry lied easily. “’Course not . . . this is something else. But I might be out of sight for a while. You know Voldemort’s snake, Neville? He’s got a huge snake.... Calls it Nagini...”

“I’ve heard, yeah.... What about it?”

“It’s got to be killed. Ron and Hermione know that, but just in case they —”

Note that Harry simply tells Neville to kill the snake. He offers no instructions about how to kill it. This only makes sense if the mere act of killing it, however it is done, is enough to destroy the Horcrux.

Now one might be tempted to argue that Harry doesn't know what he's talking about, and did not give Neville proper instructions. However, just a bit earlier when discussing among themselves, Hermione also just says that the snake needs to be killed:

“Ron, we’re the only ones who can end it! Please — Ron — we need the snake, we’ve got to kill the snake!” said Hermione.

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  • This is the correct answer. A living Horcrux only needs to die in order to destrox the Horcrux. Therefore, to destrox the Horcrux inside Nagini, you just had to kill Nagini. The how doesn't matter.
    – IloneSP
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 0:45
  • "This only makes sense if the mere act of killing it, however it is done, is enough to destroy the Horcrux." << Alternatively, it makes sense if you interpret it in conjunction with "It has to be something so destructive that the Horcrux can’t repair itself.": the only way to kill Nagini is to do something to Nagini so destructive that Nagini+Horcrux cannot repair itself. In other words, Nagini is going to be much harder to kill than a regular snake, but if you found a way to kill it, then inevitably you would destroy the Horcrux in the process.
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 20:39
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Nagini was killed with the Griffindor’s sword. That was one of the things that could destroy a horcrux, including the locket.

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    Could you explain why?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 18:19
  • Perhaps that was why the Sword presented itself to Neville at tht particular moment.
    – Mike Stone
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 8:38

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