We've talked about what to pack in the box to keep your live shipments safe and secure. Today, we’ll talk about what to use in the container that goes inside the box. This subject deals with reptiles, most amphibians, and invertebrates. When it comes to aquatic shipments, you pretty much just add water (and maybe a bag-liner if you are shipping sharp corals or fish with spiky fins).
This might seem like an elementary subject, but we believe it's an important step to ensure the safe and comfortable transport of your animals.
There are two types of containers typically used in live shipments. Snake bags (which aren’t just for snakes) and deli cups.
Snake bags are great for all but the smallest snakes. They also work well on medium and large lizards, tortoises, and turtles.
Deli cups are ideal for small or baby snakes, small or baby lizards, geckos, frogs, and all manner of invertebrates.
What should you put inside these containers?
You can safely ship an animal in a snake bag without anything else in the bag, however, we recommend including either some paper towels, or some shredded newspaper or newsprint. This extra filling will help to absorb any waste the animal secretes, as well as give it something to wrap around or hold onto.
Deli cups need a little more thought and a few different substrates may be suitable.
At a bare minimum, a layer of paper towel should be placed at the bottom of the cup to absorb moisture from waste. Aspen, Carefresh, or various types of coconut substrates typically used in cages can also be used in deli cups, so long as they are suited to the species. You’ll want something in the cup to absorb waste.
Then ask yourself these questions...
How much empty space is in the cup, around the animal?
How much moisture does the animal need to stay healthy for the duration of the trip?
If there is a lot of empty space around the animal, you’ll want to pack some loosely wadded paper towels around the animal before securing the lid. Even if the cup is snug within the box, the animal inside it may be bounced around if there’s too much room.
For moisture-loving critters like frogs and turtles, you’ll need to add just a little bit of water. Paper towels are an excellent choice for this. Moss is also very good. With both paper towels and moss, you want to wet it down and then wring it out so that there is no water dripping from it. You want the substrate to be damp, but not sopping wet. Do not use newspaper for this particular application; it will disintegrate into a nasty, wet paste.
Give this important step some thoughtful consideration and you'll be packing like a pro in no time!