It’s summertime—those “dog days” of air-shimmering heat and sweltering humidity. Reptiles love this kind of weather, don’t they? Shipping during this time of year should be a no-brainer.
But is it a “no-brainer?” Do they really love this kind of heat? Certainly, some species of reptiles thrive in extra hot conditions, however, living in a proper environment with the ability to choose various types of shelter is completely different from being packed into a small space and forced to endure unreasonably high temperatures. Even desert-dwelling lizards can succumb to the heat building up in a shipping box that has been exposed to a summer day spent trundling around town in the back of a giant metal box (delivery truck).
We’ve all experienced that time we were stuck in a vehicle with no air conditioning on a hot, sunny day. Even with all the windows down and air blowing through the windows as the vehicle moves down the road, temperatures inside the car can be 10-20 degrees hotter than outside. And lordy have mercy when the car must come to a stop for more than 6.2 seconds!
These are conditions we need to consider when shipping live animals throughout the height of summer.
Please remember that all reptiles are more tolerant of cooler-than-optimal temperatures than they are temps that are too warm. Cooler temperatures will just slow the animal down and make it sleepy. Don’t worry about the cooler nighttime temperatures the animal will be traveling through. The heat pack used to counter that hour or two of 68° exposure in the middle of the night is not worth the risk of killing the animal! Also remember that the required 3/4" foam insulation in the shipping box provides protection against sudden temperature swings.
What can you do?
First, know your temperatures! Check the HIGH temperature at both your point of origin and your destination.
If the high temperature for the day at either end of the journey is between the ranges of 70-91°F, do NOT use any kind of heat pack. The build up of excess heat can cause irreparable neurological damage and death! Excess heat kills far more animals than cool temperatures, and far quicker as well.
If the high temperature at your end of the trip is between 92-100°F, you should drop the package off at your local FedEx Ship Center as late in the day as possible. Shortly after the last drop-off time of the day, all those boxes will be picked up and placed on the plane for the next leg of their journey, which greatly reduces the time they are exposed to those hot afternoon temps.
If the high temperature at your recipient’s end is between 92-100°F, you should have the package held for pick-up at their local FedEx Ship Center. This process makes the package available early in the morning while it’s still relatively cool, and even if your recipient can’t get there until later in the day, the box is being held in a temperature-controlled building and not out on a hot truck roaming the city.
NOTE: You must use a specific FedEx Ship Center. These do NOT include FedEx Office stores, Pak Mail stores, Mail Boxes Etc, Walgreens, or any other retail outlet. To find your closest Ship Centers, follow this link, type in the relevant zip code, and use the “Dangerous goods shipping” option in the Filter menu. (This is not to say that your package is considered "dangerous goods" it's just that that particular filter brings up all the centers qualified to accept live shipments.)
If the high temperature at either end of the journey is over 100°F, please don’t ship! Be patient and wait for cooler weather.
For species from cooler climates, amphibians, and aquatic critters:
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.
Cold packs are a viable option for helping to mitigate the heat that might build up inside the box, but keep in mind that we do NOT have any guidelines for using cold packs to ship snakes and lizards. They are just for amphibian or aquatic shipments. If it is too hot for your snake and lizard shipments and you think you "need to use a cold pack" then you should wait for milder weather and not ship.
The Phase-22 (aka Cryopak) is another great option for maintaining stable temperatures inside the box for any species.
For more information, please refer to our Temperature Guidelines and Standards.
Shipping in summer can be tricky. If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not it’s safe to ship, or what steps you can take to mitigate those risks, CALL OR EMAIL US. It’s why we’re here!