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How to Ship Live Reptiles

Getting ready to do your first live reptile shipment can be daunting, but it’s actually a very straightforward process that can be broken down into the following steps.

For best results, we recommend ShipYourReptiles for their suite of shipping services, guidelines and materials.

1. Get Proper and Approved Packaging

  • A new (or like-new) strong cardboard box with minimum ¾” foam insulation on all six sides.
  • Suitable, secure container for the animal, such as a bag or deli cup with air holes.
  • Packing material like crumpled newspaper or cotton batting.
  • Possibly a heat pack or cold pack, depending on weather.
  • Lacy/IATA labels.
You can purchase all of these supplies online, but be sure to allow a few days for delivery before you need to ship your animals.
Packaging

3. Coordinate the Shipping Day

  • Live animals must be shipped overnight and therefore can only be sent Monday through Thursday.
  • Check the weather at both the origin and destination of your shipment and avoid shipping in extreme temperatures. Watch for storms that may delay FedEx operations in the Midwest.
  • Coordinate with the buyer on the delivery day and Guaranteed Time of Arrival (noted on the shipping label) so they can be present to receive the package. If shipping to a hub, make sure they are willing to go there to pick-up.
  • When creating your shipping label in the step above, we recommend against requiring a signature which can delay your delivery by a whole day.

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4. On Shipping Day, Carefully Pack the Animal in its Box

  • Assemble the box with insulation on all sides but the top. Poke four small (¼") holes for ventilation, through the box and insulation. Two at each end of the box. A Philips screwdriver works well.
  • Put the animal into its bag or deli cup and make sure it’s escape proof.
  • Put some padding in the bottom of the box to make a “nest” and place the bag or cup on the nest. Add more padding on top and around the sides.
  • If using a heat pack, you MUST follow these temperature guidelines and standards. The misuse of heat packs is the number one cause of death in shipping.
  • Put the top insulation piece in place and seal up the box.
  • Securely attach your shipping label and the completed Lacy/IATA label. (Common and scientific names of the animals, along with the quantity of each.)

5. Get your Package to FedEx

You can drop it off at your local FedEx Ship Center (aka “hub”); however, do NOT drop it off at a FedEx Office store or any other retail outlet. They are not authorized to handle live shipments and will typically refuse and/or cause delays.

Alternatively, you can contact ShipYourReptiles to arrange for FedEx to come directly to your home or office and pick up the package for you. The $5 fee is probably worth the time saved.

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Those are the basic steps! For more detail and answers to questions, check the ShipYourReptiles website. Their customer service is also available to answer your questions and discuss any concerns you might have.