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06 November 2018

Controlling Climate Change

Recently, we asked for our readers to submit ideas on future topics they’d like to see here in the Newsletter. By far, the most common request had to do with temperatures during shipping, various methods for controlling the temperatures inside the shipping box, and—most common of all—what to do when the origin temps and destination temps are widely separated (ie: 85F in Miami and 40F in Detroit). This Newsletter will answer many of the questions you had.

We could probably write an entire book on weather variables, how they impact live shipments, and how to work with them. Every single answer to every possible variation you might encounter is beyond the scope of this article. As always, if you’re ever unsure about your particular circumstances, please call us for adviceThe advice is free and gladly given, as the safety and well-being of your animals is always our number one priority. 

This Newsletter will answer the following questions: 

  • Why our guidelines are set up as they are
  • Why we focus on HIGH temperatures and not LOW temperatures
  • The impact of insulation on temperatures inside your box
  • What to do when shipping to a different temperature zone

The answers given here will be, of necessity, somewhat general. Please visit our website for specific temperature ranges and instructions. 

Guidelines for Regulating Temperature

How to use a Heat Pack


Why did we choose these particular temperature ranges? Why have ranges/limits at all? 

These ranges and recommendations were created based on decades of experience shipping thousands of animals. These are very conservative ranges, optimized to give the best chance of success to experienced shippers and newbie shippers alike. 

In addition to guiding our users toward the best path of success, we must have fixed, measurable procedures for administering our On-Time and Live Arrival Insurance program. Is it possible to ship outside of the parameters we have set? Of course it is, but if you choose to do so, then you also choose to be responsible for the additional risk factors incurred and our insurance program would not apply. 

Why HIGH temperatures and not LOW?

All of our guideline ranges are based on the HIGH temperatures for a particular location on a particular day. There are a few reasons for this: 

  • We had to choose some kind of measurable, definable “line” to draw to set our guidelines while still keeping it simple and not overly complicated
  • High temperatures for the day are the most readily accessible weather information for a given location
  • Our decades of experience have made us very comfortable using high temperatures to be our guide for safe shipping protocols
  • Low temperatures aren’t usually relevant in the shipping process

Low temperatures aren’t relevant? Why is that? Because those temperatures typically happen in the wee hours of the night. During that time, your package is either on a plane or in a warehouse, both of which are environmentally controlled areas. The brief transition time between the two is easily compensated for by proper insulation keeping the temperature inside the box stable. 


Proper insulation is a critical component to safely shipping your live animals. Besides adding structural support to protect against crushing or puncture accidents, it plays a key role in maintaining safe temperatures inside your box. A brief movement through the outdoors…from home to car, car to FedEx Ship Center, warehouse to plane, etc…will not cause any noticeable temperature shift inside the box, even if you’re going from a comfortable, environmentally controlled area through 90F degree heat or 40F degree coldness. 

The temperature inside the box will shift very gradually, which is ideal for cold-blooded creatures. Rapid swings from cold to hot (or vice-versa) can shock a cold-blooded animal, but a slow, steady change is easily adapted to. 

FedEx and SYR/SYA minimum standards for insulation is ¾” foam, fitted snugly along all six walls of the box. If you’re shipping through particularly hot or cold weather, it is perfectly fine (encouraged, even) to use even thicker insulation. You can purchase large sheets of 1” or 1.5” Styrofoam and customize them to fit your shipping boxes. When we were selling animals as ProExotics, we would stock up on 1.5” foam sheets for shipping during the coldest parts of the year. Do keep in mind that using a thicker insulation will decrease the interior volume of your box, so you may need to consider moving up one box size to accommodate your needs. 

When shipping into extreme temperatures, always consider thicker insulation. It is the safest route to take. NEVER add extra heat packs. Doing so is extremely dangerous and will nullify any insurance purchased. You don't want your box getting hot, you just want to keep it from getting too cold.


The most frequently asked question in our survey was “What if I’m shipping from an area where the HIGH temperature is 80F…but the LOW temperature at its destination is 35F?” 

First off, go back and review the paragraph above about why we don’t pay attention to low temperatures in our guidelines. Then review your temperature zones again, and compare only HIGH temperatures when trying to determine how to proceed. 

That might seem like an exercise in semantics, but it can make a big difference in how we would advise you to proceed. The high temp at that destination might be 70F, which isn’t that far off from 80F, and neither of those zones needs a heat pack…even if the low temp might be in the 30’s. 

Ok. So what if my high is 80F and the high temp at my destination is in the 40’s? Or, what if it’s reversed? It’s really cold here, but very warm over there? 

The quickest and easiest answer is to CALL US. In fact, our guidelines state clearly that if you’re in that situation, and you want to use our Live Arrival Insurance, you must call and follow our advice for the insurance to be valid on that shipment. 

Some of the variables we’ll take into account are: 

  • Temperature spread
  • How extreme one or both of those temperatures might be
  • Weather conditions (Winter storms? Summer hurricanes?)** 
  • Whether you’re going from hot to cold, or cold to hot
  • Size of your box
  • Thickness of your insulation
  • Species you’re shipping
  • Size, weight, and age of the animal(s)

All of these variables go into deciding on the best course of action for your particular shipment. It is obviously beyond the scope of this Newsletter to go into all the different potential scenarios and tell you how to handle each one. 

** NEVER ship into or from an affected storm area. If a blizzard, hurricane, or flooding is expected "tomorrow" do not ship! If the area is still recovering from a blizzard, hurricane, or flooding, do not ship! Check our websites for current warnings and updates, and always, if in doubt, contact our office to find out when these areas might be ready for shipping to resume.

That being said, here are some general strategies to keep in mind when shipping between temperature extremes:

  • Wait for better weather – not always possible if you live someplace that almost always has extreme temps, but definitely an option for most people…patience! 
  • Drop the shipment off directly at your local FedEx Ship Center (rather than having it picked up by a truck) and then make sure it is held at your recipient’s local FedEx Ship Center for them to pick it up. This keeps it off the trucks completely, which is when the package is most likely to be exposed to unpleasant temperatures. 
  • Utilize the option of thicker insulation. This is a bit of a DIY solution, but it helps the interior of the box maintain stable temperature for far longer than standard insulation. 
  • Remember that almost all cold-blooded animals are more tolerant of cooler temperatures than they are of temps that are too warm! 

And once again, most important of all, when in doubt, give us a shout! We’re always here for you and your animals!

Stay tuned for next week’s Newsletter where we will be discussing the tools used to help control temperatures inside your box—heat packs, cold packs, and Phase 22s. Lots of great info coming your way! 

Please don't hesitate to reach out to Customer Service for any questions or concerns you might have regarding your shipments.  We're here for you! 
Monday - Friday, 7am - 6pm MST


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