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16 July 2019

The Skinny on Stuffing

What’s the best material to pack around your live shipment? 

One of the more common questions we get asked is, “What is the best stuff to pack in the box around the animal?” We’re always glad when someone asks this question, because it means they are at least thinking about the issue. It’s sad and disheartening to discover live shipments that made it through the delivery process without a shred of packing material to cushion the poor animal on its bumpy journey. 

It’s critical to pack something around the animal to keep it stationary, snug and secure, in its box. The material should also absorb the shock of inevitable bumps and thumps along the way. Imagine yourself pressed up against a thin, hard wall and something huge and strong hits that wall from the other side. You would feel that power transfer through the wall to your body and it could hurt. Now imagine a pillow between you and the wall. The pillow absorbs the blow and you feel no pain. Lastly, the material needs to allow air to move through the box. Shipping boxes with live animals should never be airtight. 

Our top recommended fillings are: 

Newspaper – easily found, inexpensive and often free. Newspaper is stiff enough and comes in large enough sheets to be crumpled into balls that hold their shape without impeding airflow.

Newsprint – can be found in shops that sell moving/packing supplies. Typically sold in stacks of sheets, it’s essentially the same as newspaper but has no printing on it.

Butcher paper – heavier brown paper often sold in sheets or rolls at FedEx stores and other packing stores. This paper can also be crumpled into space-filling shapes while still allowing air to flow through

Polyester fiber fill (aka PolyFill, aka cotton batting) – available at most craft stores and supermarkets with craft centers such as Walmart. It’s breathable and offers excellent cushioning.

We do NOT recommend packing peanuts or shredded paper as they don’t offer the structural support that crumpled paper will have. The small pieces can shift and settle, causing empty pockets inside the box that may allow the animal inside to be bounced around. 


Some animals, such as turtles and tortoises, can expel a generous amount of waste during transit.

Buy some puppy pee pads at your local grocery or pet store and line the bottom of the box with a puppy pad. Place a thick layer of PolyFill over the pad. Put your bagged turtle or tortoise on top of the PolyFill, then fill in the rest of the empty space with crumpled paper to keep the animal securely in place. 

Unlike paper, the layer of PolyFill will not absorb the waste and won’t become soggy and disintegrate. Any liquid will pass through it and end up on the pad where it will be absorbed, keeping your animal relatively dry and your packing material intact.  

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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