Trrm Banner

30 October 2018

All About the Box

As with any other aspect of this business and hobby, when it comes to shipping boxes, there are a lot of different opinions, various claims of “fact”, and much contrary information. Today’s Newsletter will answer some of these questions once and for all. It was All Pro Shipping that worked directly with FedEx to develop specific minimum standards for packaging and shipping live reptiles and aquatics. No one understands these standards better than we do. 

White Boxes vs Brown Boxes

Our boxes are white. It was our boxes that FedEx specifically approved and certified for live shipping. However, FedEx really doesn’t care if your box is brown or white, so long as it meets with these minimum standards. 

  • The box must be new, or like new, with a minimum burst strength of 275 pounds
  • All flaps must be intact
  • No extraneous or misleading labels

Boxes from the US Postal service, "Priority Mail" or "Express Mail" boxes, as well as the free FedEx one-rate boxes and boxes, are all too thin and flimsy. They do not meet the FedEx box standard and are NOT ALLOWED to be used for live shipments.

Insulation Thickness

Some “known” shipping supply companies offer boxes with ½” foam insulation. That is notenough. FedEx requires a minimum of ¾” thick foam insulation interlocking across all six walls of the box. The thicker foam not only helps to keep temperatures stable, it also provides critical structural support to help protect against crushing or piercing accidents. 1.5” sheets of foam can usually be found at the big hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowes and custom cut to fit your boxes for even greater control of temperatures and support. 

To Hole or Not to Hole?

Should you punch ventilation holes in your box? If so, how many? First off, if boxed properly, these packages are not airtight. You shouldn’t be taping up every single seam. Even so, our shipping standards clearly state that four small holes should be included for ventilation. You don’t need to punch tons of holes, or have holes on all sides of the box. Two small holes at each end of the box, for a total of four holes, is plenty, even (and especially) when using a heat pack in the box. These holes should be about ¼” in diameter. A regular Philips head screwdriver punches them very easily. You’ll want to punch through the cardboard and the foam insulation at the same time. 

  • Four small holes (two at each end of the box)
  • ¼” in diameter (use a Philips head screwdriver)
  • Through cardboard and foam at the same spot


Reuse a Box?

Are you allowed to reuse a shipping box? Absolutely. Just make sure it’s in like-new condition, without any torn flaps or surface areas torn away. Make sure all previous labels are removed or covered up. Using a brand new box for every shipment gives a far more professional look to your shipments, but there’s nothing wrong (and everything economical) about reusing a box that’s been previously shipped to you if it’s still in like-new condition and is the proper size for your needs.

The line " the proper size for your needs" is critical to understand. If you have a 16x16x10 box that was previously shipped to you, or you got free from a friend or your local pet store, it might seem like a good deal. But if you're only shipping a single small snake or lizard or piece of coral, the difference in cost to ship the proper sized box or your "free" box could be $100 or more. 

Dimensionally, the 16x16x10 box is going to bill at 19lbs. It may very well cost $100 MORE to ship than a 12x9x6 box because of the size/bulk/dimensional difference. Suddenly "saving $13" is the worst choice you have made. You want to use the smallest insulated box you can safely use to ship your animal. Just because you spot a large (or even medium) insulated shipping box that is free or super cheap, that doesn't mean it is going to be the best choice for your particular shipment. 

Inside the Box

What kind of packing material is best? There are many different options available. 

  • Paper towels – It would get a bit expensive to fill multiple boxes with paper towels, but this is a good option for a single shipment. It also works very well for filling in the small bits of empty space in a deli cup, or adding some extra absorption material in a snake bag.
  • Newspaper – This is an inexpensive option that is easily obtained. Just crumple it up to build a nest for the animal container (bag or cup) and then fill in all the empty space around. It can look a bit messy and not very professional.
  • Newsprint – It's easy to find any place packing materials are sold and not too expensive. Works exactly the same as newspaper, but looks cleaner and more professional. 
  • Packing peanuts – These can work, but they don’t provide quite as much shock absorption as other methods. They can also be messy and annoying for the person unpacking the box.
  • Shredded paper – This can work very nicely. The quality and type of paper can provide a clean, professional look or even a “signature look” if you use something unique.
  • Quilt batting – This is the floofy stuff you find inside pillows and quilts. It can be a bit more expensive than the paper options, and might take up a fair amount of storage space, but it provides excellent cushioning, absorbs leaks, and allows for plenty of air flow. It also looks exceptionally clean and professional. 

Those are just some of the options available. You can get creative and do something unique to your brand. Just make sure it provides adequate shock absorption, moisture absorption, air flow, and is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

To be 100% confident that your supplies meet or exceed FedEx standards, you can always buy them at ShipYourReptiles and ShipYourAquatics
Click here for more information on packaging live shipments. 
Click here for more information on the use of heat packs.

Next week will be all about temperature control and how to deal with extreme swings in temperature between the origin and destination locations. Don't miss it! 

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


New to the Newsletter?  Want to catch up on past topics or share one with a friend? 
Check out our Newsletter Archives!

Click here to SUBSCRIBE and be the first to read each week's Newsletter!