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Shipping Standards

What you can ship with ShipYourReptiles

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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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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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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Determining which shipping supplies you need

For help figuring out which supplies you need, click the Buy Shipping Supplies link at the top of any ShipYourReptiles.com page, and browse our Shipping Kits.

Each kit includes everything you need to ship that type and size of animal: deli cup and/or reptile bag, zip tie, heat pack, cold pack, and an insulated box.

Even if you don’t want to buy a kit, you can use our sizing charts and kit descriptions to determine what you need.

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Which shipping kit should I order?

Here are some guidelines based on species and age. If you have any questions, contact us at Info@ShipYourReptiles.com or 303-730-2125.

Animal Kit #
   
Lizard - small species baby 2
Lizard - small species juvenile 2
Lizard - small species adult 3
Lizard - medium species baby 2
Lizard - medium species juvenile 3
Lizard - medium species adult 5
Lizard - large species baby 3
Lizard - large species juvenile 5
   
Snake - small species baby 2
Snake - small species juvenile 2
Snake - small species adult 3
Snake - medium species baby 2
Snake - medium species juvenile 2
Snake - medium species adult 3
Snake - large species baby 2
Snake - large species juvenile 3
Snake - large species large juvenile 4
Snake - large species adult 5
   
Gecko - small species baby 2
Gecko - small species juvenile 2
Gecko - small species adult 2
Gecko - medium species baby 2
Gecko - medium species juvenile 2
Gecko - medium species adult 3
Gecko - large species baby 2
Gecko - large species juvenile 2
Gecko - large species adult 3

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Choosing a deli cup vs. cloth reptile bag

Use a deli cup for small, delicate animals. The more delicate the animal, the more it needs the structure of the deli cup. Use a deli cup for small reptiles including geckos and lizards (less than 1" x 16") as well as for frogs and other delicate creatures.

Use a cloth reptile bag for larger reptiles that have more size and weight.

For detailed recommendations, refer to our shipping kits.

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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 a reputable breeder of your species 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!

Reptiles -These guidelines are according to the daytime HIGH temps. These apply to either the ORIGIN or DESTINATION temperatures. Shipping outside of these temperature guidelines nullifies any SYR Live Arrival Insurance. 

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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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.

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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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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Selecting the shipping box

You must use a 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. 

For help selecting the right box size, click the Buy Shipping Supplies link at the top of any ShipYourReptiles.com page, and browse our Shipping Kits. They are organized by type and size of animal.

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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.

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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, 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.

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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Shipping service restrictions

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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Reptile size restrictions

Snakes 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.

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The right way to pack a reptile

  1. Gather your shipping supplies.

    ShipYourReptiles.com shipping kits contain everything you need:

    • Insulated box of the appropriate size
    • Zip tie
    • Deli cup and/or cloth reptile bag, matched to type and size of animal
    • Heat pack
    • Cold pack
    • Self adhering label envelope
    • ShipYourReptiles.com Shipping Tips and Quick Referral sheet Download it now
    • Harmless LIVE REPTILE label for the interior of your box (included in above link)

    You provide the packing material (usually crumpled newspaper).

    You may use your own supplies, but they must meet or exceed ShipYourReptiles.com Shipping Standards.

    Start your heat pack two hours before shipping. More info

    Freeze your cold pack overnight. More info

  2. Prepare the shipping box

    Insert the insulating foam panels on the bottom and sides of your box if necessary.

    Ventilate the box by punching 4 one-quarter inch holes with a Philips screwdriver. Punch them from the outside in, going through the box and the insulating foam. Do this before you put anything else (especially your reptile) in the box.

  3. Create a nest with packing material

    Crumpled newspaper works well. Line the bottom and sides of the box so the deli cup or reptile bag will rest securely in the nest.

    Tape the heat pack to the underside of your lid, red line visible. Do not tape over the red line. Don’t use a heat pack that feels hard or stiff. The red line should face the interior of the box.

  4. Prepare the deli cup or cloth bag

    Inspect the cup or bag to make sure there are no cracks, holes or weak spots.

    Using a Sharpie pen, label the cup or bag with species and sex.

  5. Inspect the animal

    Absolutely NO VENOMOUS or DANGEROUS REPTILES are to be shipped through FedEx or ShipYourReptiles.com. Absolutely no mammals.

    Only ship a healthy animal, with good weight. We prefer not to ship when an animal is in shed. We prefer not to feed a reptile the week before shipping, to prevent regurgitation during shipping.

    Be 100% confident in the animal you’re shipping. Go over it in detail, so you know exactly what your customer will see when opening the package.

  6. Put the animal into the container

    Leave the animal room to move. Use packing material as a cushion, and to absorb any waste.

    Bag—Inspect the bag to be sure there are no holes or broken seams. We prefer to use a zip tie to seal the bag for total security (one is included with each shipping kit). Some shippers tie their bags, others use tape and some use a combination of methods. The main thing is you want the bag to be closed securely.

    Cup—Tape completely around the rim. Be sure not cover the air holes. Re-punch air holes if necessary.

  7. Put the container in the box

    Nestle the cup or bag into the nesting material. The container should not have room to jostle inside the box.

    Put on the top insulating foam panel/lid, with the heat pack or cold pack (if needed) facing down.

    Put your receipt, caresheet and other paperwork on top of the insulating foam lid. Place your harmless LIVE REPTILE label—the one that comes with your shipping kit—on top, with the duplicate shipping address in the space provided. This harmless LIVE REPTILE note should be the first thing a person sees when opening the box. If your harmless LIVE REPTILE label has been lost or damaged, you can download another here

  8. Label your package in accordance with the federal Lacey Act

    You are required to mark the outside of the package as "wildlife" and have itemized paperwork (i.e. customer receipt) inside the top flap with more species information and quantities available for easy reference. More info on the Lacey Act here.

  9. Fasten the label and ship

    If you haven’t already done so, enter your package and shipping info into ShipYourReptiles.com and purchase your shipping label. 

    You can print your shipping label from the ShipYourReptiles.com site or from your confirmation email.

    If you are using a thermal label printer, the label will be self-adhesive. If you print your label on regular paper, place your label inside the provided label pouch and affix the self adhesive pouch to the top of your shipping box.

    Print your FedEx FedEx reference note and tape it next to your FedEx shipping label.

    We recommend dropping your package off at the actual FedEx facility. FedEx Office locations are not recommended, as many of those locations do not accept live or perishable shipments for drop off or pickup.

    Find a FedEx Facility location here. Use the Filter and select the "Dangerous Goods" filter to weed out everything except the actual FedEx facilities. 

    You can track your package progress using your FedEx tracking number on the home page of ShipYourReptiles.com.

    If you have any questions or issues with your shipment, please contact us directly. You are a ShipYourReptiles.com client, not a direct FedEx client, and we will help you answer questions, clarify tracking or process claims. You can call us at 303 730-2125 or email us at Info@ShipYourReptiles.com.

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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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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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Provide accurate information

Be sure to enter a complete, accurate destination address, as well as accurate package dimensions and weight.

  • FedEx charges an extra fee for an incomplete or inaccurate address. This "address correction" fee is currently $14.00.
  • FedEx measures every package and charges for the greater of the dimensional weight (L x W x H / 139, rounded up to the nearest pound) or actual weight. If you enter 1 pound when you book your shipment, but FedEx measures your package at 10 pounds, FedEx charges us the difference -- and we will charge you the difference.

All additional fees charged by FedEx will be charged to the credit card or Paypal account you used to book the shipment. If your credit card company declines the charge, we will charge the additional fees to another card we have on file. We reserve the right to charge for the time spent processing these fees.

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How should I label the outside of the box?

In addition to your FedEx shipping label and the FedEx reference note (we provide it when you book a shipment and here below), it's important you mark your package to indicate its contents.

The Federal Lacey Act and various state regulations require different labeling.

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 have provided a FedEx Reference Note & Package Label. Simply cut it out, complete it and tape it to the side of any live reptile/aquatics package.

FedEx Reference Note & Compliance Label Information Sheet

FedEx Reference Note & Compliance 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.

Completely cover the reference note with tape to prevent tears or weather wear (or use a label-envelope).
In case of questions regarding ShipYourReptiles/ShipYourAquatics account status, live animal shipping certification or residential shipping allowance, the note below instructs FedEx employees to contact the FedEx Live Animal Desk through their internal system for clarification. 

The note for FedEx agents is provided for reference only. FedEx employees are not required to look up this account info for each shipment. This note is simply to alleviate any rare concerns they might have, while also ensuring proper labeling of species and quantity for any inspection or audit.

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

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

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