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Shipping Standards

1. What you can ship with ShipYourReptiles

You can ship non-venomous reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, fish, and corals.

You can ship dry goods related to the reptile industry, such as food, bedding, cages, and housing materials.

You cannot ship illegal drugs, batteries, liquor, aerosols, firearms and ammunition, fireworks, explosives, mammals (no dogs, no cats), birds, dry ice and absolutely no venomous reptiles.

ShipYourReptiles.com is approved for the shipping of live non venomous reptiles and reptile supplies to and from business and residential addresses.

You must follow all ShipYourReptiles.com Shipping Standards.

You must also follow all FedEx rules and restrictions. For more details, see this section of the FedEx site:

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2. Reptile size restrictions

Very large, heavy, or powerful animals may need special shipping arrangements that cannot be done through ShipYourReptiles.

Pythons or boas larger than 4 inches in diameter or 8 feet in length cannot be shipped with ShipYourReptiles.com.

To ship a larger reptile, you must build or buy a strong wooden crate and ship it using a freight service such as Delta Air Cargo.

If in doubt about whether or not your animal is restricted, contact Customer Service at 303-730-2125 or write to them at info@ShipYourReptiles.com.
 

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3. Choosing a FedEx shipping service

ShipYourReptiles offers the following FedEx shipping services:

  • Priority Overnight
  • 2Day
  • Express Saver (three day)
  • Ground (to business addresses)
  • Home Delivery (to residential addresses)

Live shipments must be sent via Priority Overnight. Failure to use Priority Overnight for live shipments will void insurance coverage.

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4. Which days of the week should I ship?

All live animals must be shipped FedEx Priority Overnight, Monday through Thursday only. An overnight Friday shipment won't arrive until Monday. That is not acceptable and not permitted.

Absolutely no venomous or dangerous reptiles are to be shipped through FedEx or ShipYourReptiles.com. Absolutely no mammals.

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5. Shipping Box Standards

You must use a new, or like new, cardboard box with an interior of insulating foam. The foam insulation must be at least ¾ inch thick. The box should not bear markings that indicate a dangerous or illegal item.

The box must be large enough to contain the deli cup or reptile bag, adequate packing material to protect the animal, the heat or cold pack and the foam insulation.

Boxes from the US Postal service, "Priority Mail" or "Express Mail" boxes, as well as many Amazon.com boxes, do not meet the FedEx box standard and are NOT ALLOWED to be used for live reptile shipments. They are too thin, too flimsy, and do not protect the live reptile sufficiently. Using a thin cardboard box, or one of the boxes mentioned, nullifies any SYR Live Arrival Insurance coverage. 

Click here for help selecting the right box size.  All the supplies you need can be found here: Shipping Supplies.

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6. Using ShipYourReptiles.com shipping supplies

All shipping supplies and shipping kits sold on ShipYourReptiles.com meet the reptile-shipping standards developed by ShipYourReptiles.com. If you use a ShipYourReptiles shipping kit according to our directions, you can feel secure that you’re shipping your reptile as safely and reliably as possible.

Shipping Kits (best for one-time or very infrequent shipments)

Bulk Supplies (best for folks planning to ship more than once or twice)

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7. Using your own shipping supplies

You may use your own shipping supplies, but they must meet or exceed the standards developed by ShipYourReptiles.com:

  • Cardboard box is new, or like new, with no markings that indicate a dangerous or illegal item (no alcohol boxes). Box must not have any kind of warning or hazardous material markings or stickers. Box should be labeled in accordance with the Lacey Act. See more on that here.
  • Insulation lining must be at least ¾ inch thick. The insulating lining must cover all four sides of the inside of the cardboard box, as well as the top and bottom.
  • Heat or cold packs must be used according to ShipYourReptiles.com Shipping Standards.
  • You must use a “triple container.”
    1. The deli cup or cloth reptile bag.
    2. The insulating foam container.
    3. The cardboard box.
  • You must seal the box adequately. All shipping labels must be fully legible.

Boxes from the US Postal service, "Priority Mail" or "Express Mail" boxes, as well as many Amazon.com boxes, do not meet the FedEx box standard and are NOT ALLOWED to be used for live reptile shipments. They are too thin, too flimsy, and do not protect the live reptile sufficiently. Using a thin cardboard box, or one of the boxes mentioned, nullifies any SYR Live Arrival Insurance coverage. 

If you have any doubts, use the supplies available on ShipYourReptiles.com.

Remember: What you do affects the entire reptile hobby and industry. The general public has a right to live their lives without encountering a reptile that’s escaped from improper packaging. Every time someone ships a reptile with substandard packaging, and that reptile escapes, dies, scares or harms someone, that reflects poorly on all reptile hobbyists. It also furthers legislative efforts to ban reptiles entirely.

Take responsibility. Do your part. Pack your reptile properly. Make sure it reaches its destination safely. It’s good for the reptile, it’s good for the recipient, and it’s good for you.

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8. Species that are considered illegal, invasive or otherwise restricted

You may be breaking the law if you ship live species that are considered illegal, invasive or otherwise restricted by state or local authorities.

Penalties can be steep, and there is no legal protection for not knowing.

So do your homework!

To get started, call the destination's local U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or United States Department of Agriculture office. These links will help you reach the right office:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service office directory

United States Department of Agriculture service center locator

For information about invasive species, check out United States Department of Agriculture National Invasive Species Information Center.

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9. Why you must follow these shipping standards

Some people in the general public are afraid of reptiles. At ShipYourReptiles.com we have worked hard to prove that properly packaged non-venomous reptiles are safe and reliable to ship, and that reptile breeders and hobbyists are legitimate shipping customers. We are approved to ship live non-venomous reptiles—but you must follow safe reptile packaging standards.

Remember: What you do affects the entire reptile hobby and industry. The general public has a right to live their lives without encountering a reptile that’s escaped from improper packaging. Every time someone ships a reptile with substandard packaging, and that reptile escapes, dies, scares or harms someone, that reflects poorly on all reptile hobbyists. It also furthers legislative efforts to ban reptiles entirely.

Take responsibility. Do your part. Pack your reptile properly. Make sure it reaches its destination safely. It’s good for the reptile, it’s good for the recipient, and it’s good for you.

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10. What is the Lacey Act and how does it apply to live reptile shipments?

The Lacey Act is a federal rule that addresses package labeling for interstate transport of live reptiles.

Super duper official federal government guideline docs here and here.

See How should I label the outside of the box?‚Äč for more details.

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11. What is a Lacey Act/IATA label and do I need to use it?

Yes you do.

IATA stands for International Air Transport Association. This association works with its airline members and the air transport industry as a whole to promote safe, reliable, secure and economical air travel for the benefit of the world's consumers. They have developed a variety of standardized labels indicating potentially dangerous or hazardous materials being shipped via air.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has ruled that all shipments containing live animals must be labeled according to IATA standards. For our purposes, this includes only reptile or aquatic creatures. A label with an image representing reptiles or aquatic animals must be included on every live shipment.

You can purchase our Lacey Act/IATA labels as stickers or you can print your own using our format.

Be sure to include one of these labels on every live shipment and check the appropriate box indicating its contents.
 

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12. How should I label the outside of the box?

The FedEx shipping label is first and foremost. It should be placed in an easily visible location.

When ordering the shipping label, do NOT put a PO Box in the address fields. Only US postal trucks can delivery to a PO Box and FedEx will not be able to complete that delivery without an address correction.

In addition to your FedEx shipping label, it's important you mark your package to indicate its contents.

The Federal Lacey Act and various state regulations require specific labeling. You are required to mark the outside of the package with a complete list of the animal(s) inside, including quantities, common names and scientific names. An IATA label must also be included. These can be ordered from SYR/SYA as stickers, or you can print your own on plain paper and tape it to the box where it can be clearly seen. Different states may have different requirements. This labeling direction meets all state requirements on these points. Contact individual state Fish & Wildlife offices for any additional requirements regarding labeling, health certficiates, permits or restrictions. 

It is IMPORTANT that you clearly indicate quantity and species and label your live package appropriately, according to both Federal and State laws. This includes meeting the IATA labeling requirement and the Lacey Act labeling requirement. Failure to label your live shipments accurately and/or completely may result in delays, inspection, confiscation, and/or monetary fines. Florida and California are especially vigilant about inspections and citations. It is YOUR responsibility, and it only takes a moment!

To assist you in compliance we can provided you with a Lacey Act/IATA label that includes our FedEx Reference Note and space for listing the contents of the box. Complete it and place it on the side of any live reptile/aquatics package where it can be clearly seen.

Lacey Act/IATA label stickers

Printable Lacey Act/IATA labels - 4 per page

To meet the IATA labeling requirement you must check/circle the appropriate Live Animal Indicator- Aquatics or Reptiles.

To meet the Lacey Act labeling requirement you must list your species by quantity, and both scientific and common name. Florida is requiring BOTH scientific and common name listings, complying with the Florida requirement will ensure that you are labeled appropriately throughout the country. Failure to label completely may result in delays, confiscation, and/or fines.

If you use plain paper to print the Lacey Act/IATA label, be sure to cover it with tape to prevent tears or weather wear (or use a label-envelope).

The FedEx Reference Note on this label is provided for those rare moments when a FedEx employee balks at accepting a live shipment. It is intended to alleviate concerns and instructs the employee to contact the FedEx Live Animal Desk through their internal system for clarification if they need it.

Be sure to include your paperwork* inside the top flap of the box, on top of the foam insulation.

*Sales receipt or packing list, as well as the species and quantities of live harmless reptiles contained in the package.

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13. Remember: What you do affects the entire reptile hobby and industry

The general public has a right to live their lives without encountering a reptile that’s escaped from improper packaging. Every time someone ships a reptile with substandard packaging, and that reptile escapes, dies, scares or harms someone, that reflects poorly on ALL reptile hobbyists. It also furthers legislative efforts to ban reptiles entirely.
  
Take responsibility. Do your part. Pack your reptile properly. Make sure it reaches its destination safely. It’s good for the reptile, it’s good for the recipient, and it’s good for you.

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*****TEMPERATURE GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS*****

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14. Regulating the temperature of the package

You might need to use a heat pack or cold pack inside your package. This decision depends on the type of animal you’re shipping and the daytime high temperature at your location and at the destination.

These are guidelines. Be aware of the temperature requirements and safe temperature range for the species you are shipping. If you have questions about a specific species or weather condition, consult ShipYourReptiles in-office staff for more detailed guidelines and parameters.

It is the responsibility of the shipper to adequately package shipments for all temperature extremes and handling conditions. DO NOT OVERUSE HEAT PACKS!

5 Critical Points for Heat Pack Use

  1. Heat packs should never come into direct contact with the animal bag/container. 
  2. There should always be crumpled newspaper or other packaging material between the heat pack and animal bag/container.
  3. Heat pack should never be placed under an animal bag/container, as it will result in high likelihood of DOA.
  4. Heat pack should be taped securely to underside of the styrofoam lid. 
  5. We do not recommend heat pack use in any box smaller than the 12x9x6. If you need a heat pack with your shipment, you should use the 12x9x6 box or larger. 

Reptiles - These guidelines are according to the daytime HIGH temps. If either the ORIGIN or DESTINATION temperature is 70F or higher, do NOT use a heat pack. Shipping outside of these temperature guidelines nullifies any SYR Live Arrival Insurance. If your daytime high temps straddle two categories, please contact us directly for heat pack instructions that remain within insurance parameters, qualifications and guidelines. Heat pack use in temps above 70F can kill reptiles!
 

Below 38°F: Don’t ship. Wait for warmer weather.

38-69°F: Use a heat pack per our directions.

70-91°F: DO NOT use heat pack.

92-100°F: Ship to a "FedEx Ship Center" facility (NOT a FedEx Office, Pak Mail, Mail Boxes Etc. or other satellite/franchise location). Your shipment will arrive early in the morning and be kept inside until the recipient picks it up. Search for a Fedex staffed facility near you. Read the IMPORTANT NOTE below.*

Over 100°F: Don’t ship. Wait for cooler weather.


Amphibians and other species from cooler moist climates.

Below 38°F: Don’t ship. Wait for warmer weather.

38-60°F: Use a heat pack per our directions.

60-80°F: DO NOT use a heat pack. No cold pack required.

80-92°F: Use a cold pack per our directions. 

Over 92°F: Don’t ship. Wait for cooler weather.

 

*IMPORTANT NOTE: When the daytime high temperature at your destination is between 92 and 100 degrees, you should not ship to typical residential or business locations (and you should not ship amphibians at all). Any time spent on a delivery truck during the heat of the day can be detrimental to the health of your reptile. However, you can ship to a "FedEx Ship Center" facility (NOT a FedEx Office, Pak Mail, Mail Boxes Etc. or other satellite/franchise location). Your shipment will arrive early in the morning and be kept inside until the recepient picks it up.

If you want to have your package held for pickup at a FedEx facility, be sure to enter "FedEx Ship Center" in the Organization field and "HOLD AT FACILITY" in the second address field, like this:

When the daytime high temperature at your location is between 92 and 100 degrees, live shipments must be dropped off at a FedEx counter very late in the day, after 5 p.m. You will not beat the heat if you give your package to a FedEx driver at 1 p.m. and it spends the afternoon making the rounds in a hot truck. A hot weather shipment (over 92F, but under 100F, at either origin or destination) will be covered under our ShipYourReptiles Insurance policy only if the parameters mentioned here (post 5 p.m. drop off, shipping to FedEx staffed facility, hold for pickup) are followed.

Search for a FedEx staffed facility near you.

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15. Using a Heat Pack

ShipYourReptiles.com offers 40- and 72-hour heat packs. 40-hour heat packs are most often used for reptile shipping. Reptiles must be shipped Priority Overnight, and the 40-hour heat pack is appropriate. Heat packs of less than 40 hour duration do NOT meet the SYR Shipping Standards.

To ship live reptiles, do not use the 12- or 24-hour packs available at your local BigBox store or ski shop. Those packs are hand warmers, not shipping tools. The 12-24 hour packs don’t provide the necessary heat nor duration for a successful live shipment. 12 and 24 hour hand warmers also peak at a much higher temperature than shipping heat packs (180F), endangering the life of your live shipment. Hand warmers do NOT meet the SYR Shipping Standards. Heat packs of less than 40 hour duration do NOT meet the SYR Shipping Standards.

Heat packs work through a chemical reaction between the contents of the heat pack and oxygen in the surrounding air. Oxygen flow is regulated through the perforated red line. Never cover the red line with tape or anything else.

Pre-start your heat pack two hours before shipping. Shake it up well, and place it in a folded towel so it can generate a quick, solid heat. The heat pack will not heat up properly if you leave it in open air.

The heat pack must be well started before you tape it to the underside of the top insulation panel and seal your box. Remember not to tape over the perforated red line. The red line should face the interior of the box.

Note: Do not overuse heat packs! Use only one heat pack per box unless you are using our largest box, the 30"x16"x10", where two heat packs can be used if needed. Two heat packs in a box 16x16x8 or smaller will cause the box to get too hot and can kill the animal.

We have seen shipments where folks have put multiple heat packs in box, using the "if one is good, two is better!" philosophy. This has resulted in the loss of the animals.

In a small or medium sized box, multiple heat packs will increase the ambient temp of the box into very dangerous territory. Check out the chart below for the temps that a single heat pack puts out. More is absolutely not better, just much, much hotter. Hand warmers in particular peak at 180F!

The purpose of a heat pack is NOT to warm or heat the box, it is to prevent it from getting cold. You want a temperate box, NOT a hot box!

If the temperatures are near the lower end of the SYR guidelines then doubling the insulation and/or having the shipment held at a FedEx facility will minimize the chances for a DOA.

DOAs are often caused by improper use of heat packs during the winter. Using too many heat packs in a box can cause the inside of the box to overheat. Be aware that heat packs use oxygen and using more than needed may consume all the oxygen in the box and have fatal consequences for the animal. Following these guidelines will increase your chances of having successful shipments.

5 Critical Points for Heat Pack Use

  1. Heat packs should never come into direct contact with the animal bag/container. 
  2. There should always be crumpled newspaper or other packaging material between the heat pack and animal bag/container.
  3. Heat pack should never be placed under an animal bag/container, as it will result in high likelihood of DOA.
  4. Heat pack should be taped securely to underside of the styrofoam lid. 
  5. We do not recommend heat pack use in any box smaller than the 12x9x6. If you need a heat pack with your shipment, you should use the 12x9x6 box or larger. 

Note: New heat packs are soft and feel like loose powder. Used heat packs are hard. If your heat pack is hard, it has been compromised. Use a different one.

Here is a chart of heat pack surface temperatures for the various heat pack sizes-

heat pack profiles

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16. Using a Cold Pack

Put the cold pack in your freezer overnight. It should be fully frozen.

Pack your animal, but don’t place the cold pack until you’re ready for pickup or dropoff. This keeps the cold pack frozen longer.

When you’re ready to seal the package, wrap the cold pack in newspaper to absorb condensation. Tape the pack to the underside of the top insulation panel. Make sure there is packing material (usually crumpled newspaper) between the cold pack and the deli cup or cloth reptile bag.

Note: Using this site, you may not ship a package containing dry ice.

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