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09 January 2018

Six Shipping Standards for Success

Shipping live animals is not an action that should be taken lightly. It is absolutely essential that certain standards of practice are met or exceeded. These standards have been carefully considered by shipping experts for the protection of the animals involved. They mitigate many of the inherent risks involved in live shipping and give you the greatest probability of success. They also serve to protect our rights as exotic keepers, as well as protecting the general public. 

It is the responsibility of every single person that puts an animal in a box for the purpose of shipping to know exactly what they are doing. 

1. Clean, Sturdy Box – The box must be corrugated cardboard, at least single-walled. It must be new or in like-new condition. All flaps must be intact. It may not have old labels or any markings indicating dangerous or illegal items.

2. Insulating Foam – The box must be lined on all six sides with extruded polystyrene foam (EPF) that is at least ¾” thick. This insulation not only protects against dramatic swings in temperature within the box; it also adds critical structural integrity to help prevent crushing or punctures.

3. Containment – All live shipments must use a “triple container” method (for reptiles) or a “quadruple container” method (for aquatics). The triple containment includes the bag or deli-cup the animal is placed in, the insulating foam inside the box, and the box itself. For aquatic shipments, a fourth layer includes a thick plastic liner that covers the inside of the box to prevent any water leaks.

4. Size Matters – The box must be large enough to allow for each method of containment, along with enough space for extra packing material that will cushion the animal on all sides during its journey. If a heat pack is used (click here for critical heat-pack info) then there must also be room enough that the pack never comes in direct contact with the bag or deli-cup.

5. Seal it Up – The box must be taped securely with packing tape. NOT duct tape (or “duck” tape) or masking tape or scotch tape. You must use packing tape that was designed to secure cardboard boxes. Punch four ¼” holes for ventilation. This is especially important if a heat pack is in the box, as the pack consumes oxygen to work. Two holes at each end of the box--four holes total. A Philips-head screwdriver works well for that task.

6. Proper Labels – Make sure the shipping label is clearly visible. Any old labels on the box must be removed or covered. You must also include a Lacey Act/IATA label and a written list visible on the outside of the box that gives quantity, scientific names, and common names of all the animals within the box. 

Failure to meet these minimum standards will nullify any Live-Arrival Insurance that may have been purchased for that shipment. 

If you just take a snake and toss it into a shoebox, stick some tape on the edges, and drop it in the mail, you will almost certainly have doomed that animal. If it does not die, it may get seized by authorities. Or, it may escape. Escaped wildlife in public areas is bad for all of us and is often the catalyst for local, state, and even federal laws that are putting a strangle-hold on our abilities to keep, breed, and sell these amazing animals. 

At first glance, these standards may seem a bit daunting, but taken step-by-step with a little careful thought, you’ll find that they make perfect sense and are easy to follow. 

You may source your own shipping supplies, so long as they meet or exceed our standards, but if you want to be SURE you’re using the right materials, you can order your supplies directly from us at ShipYourReptiles and ShipYourAquatics

For single or very infrequent shipments, we have kits you can buy with everything you need to make one shipment. For more frequent shippers, we have everything you need in large and small bulk quantities. 

And as always, if you have questions or concerns about any steps in the packing and shipping process, we are here for you!

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Let’s ring in the New Year with nothing but awesome, successful shipments! 

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