For those unexperienced with shipping reptiles, we understand the process can be daunting and stressful. Here at Pangea, though, we ship reptiles all the time, so we've got quite a bit of experience and know-how to make sure it's done right, and your reptiles get shipped safely. We've created this guide to help those new to reptile shipping, or anyone who needs a refresher. We've also made a YouTube video on the topic, where our General Manager, Jon, takes you through the steps!
Let's start by going over the supplies you will need for your reptile.
Your reptile is going to be contained in a plastic deli cup, or similar container. The main things to consider when choosing a cup are:
What size is appropriate for my reptile?
Can the cup be secured tightly to prevent escape?
How is my reptile going to breathe?
The cup should be just large enough to fit your reptile and the paper towel you add to it. If the cup is too large, the reptile won't feel secure, and can get jostled around in shipping. For first time shippers, it may feel odd putting your reptile in such a small container, but trust us; it's the right call. For crested geckos in particular, we pack juveniles in 8 oz. cups, sub-adults or tailless adults in 12 or 16 oz. cups, and adults with tails in 32 oz. cups. All of these should be lined with paper towel, regardless of the size.
Depending on the ambient temperatures of your area and your recipients area, you will need to pack some temperature control packs as well, to ensure your reptile stays at their ideal temperatures.
No matter the temperature, we always include a Pangea Temp-Safe Phase Pack. These packs use phase-change technology to stabilize temperatures around 74°F. This is great for when temps are mild as it acts to stabilize temperatures in the case of any unexpected spikes or dips. It's also great for extreme temperatures alongside hot or cold packs to better control the temperatures your reptile is exposed to.
When temperatures are higher (75-85°F), Adding a bagged ice pack is needed to prevent overheating. When temperatures are lower (50°F or lower), a heat pack is needed.
We recommend using a thin packing paper, such as newsprint to keep your reptile secure and well-insulated. You can even use actual newspapers! Packing materials to avoid are thicker packing papers, glossy ads that come in newspapers, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts. You will also need paper towel for inside the cup; do not use paper towel for outer packing paper.
An Insulated Box
Now that you've figured out everything that has to go in the box, you can pick out which box is right for you. Measure your contents, including any bonuses you want to add, such as packets of Crested Gecko Diet, or care guides, and choose a box that can fit it all snugly. The boxes we sell for shipping reptiles include 3/4" foam insulation panels, so account for those as well. You will need a box that fits:
The reptile in its cup
Packing paper on all sides of the reptile as well as the included foam inserts
Temperature control packs
Any bonuses you want to include.
When to Ship
At Pangea, we only ship reptiles Monday through Wednesday. Since shipping will be done overnight, this ensures the reptile won't get lost in transit over the weekend when it is more difficult to track it down and ensure it is getting found and taken care of. Basically, it allows for an easier time working with shipping representatives in the case that something goes wrong.
We also only ship when temperatures are between 32°F and 80°F on both our end and the recipient's end. Temperatures outside this range can be dangerous for your reptile.
The most important part of deciding when to ship though, is coordinating with your recipient. Make sure you are both clear on the expected transit windows, so that the reptile can be brought inside and taken care of properly.
Packing your Reptile
So, now that you've gotten all your supplies and determined when to ship, it's time to actually pack your reptile. If you are a visual learner, watch the linked YouTube video above for a demonstration!
Begin by putting your reptile in its cup. Make a concave shape with dry paper towel, and place it in the cup. Place the reptile in the cup, then use a smaller piece of paper towel on top to keep the reptile feeling safe and secure.
Next, assemble your box, making sure to tape all seams to ensure it can't break open. Line the box with the foam inserts, followed by a layer of packing paper at the bottom. You'll then add your temperature control packs. If using just a phase pack, the reptile can be placed directly on top of it. However, if you use a heat or a cold pack, we recommend separating the pack from your reptile with a layer of paper as well as placing a phase pack between them. This helps prevent your reptile from getting dangerously hot or cold.
Once your temperature control packs are inside and insulated, place your reptile in the box. Add paper around the sides of the reptile to keep it snug and secure, and insulate it further. Add another layer of paper on top of the reptile, place any extra goodies you're including on top of that, and add the top layer of foam, and then you are ready to seal the box!
Close the box and once again tape all the seams to ensure it can't break open. Then, poke a hole in the box, making sure you poke through the foam insert as well to allow your reptile to breathe. This hole is especially important when using heat packs as those will also use oxygen.
Once your reptile is packed, you will need to add Lacey Act information to the side. The boxes we sell include a space for Lacey Act labeling, but you can also download and print off the label below.
For the Lacey Act, you will need to designate "Wildlife - Harmless Live Reptiles" are contained inside. You will also need to designate the quantity and species contained in your shipment. We typically include both the scientific name as well as the common name. For example a label for a single crested gecko would say "1 Correlophus ciliatus (Crested Gecko)."
Once that is on there, find a place to adhere your shipping label. We also recommend adding additional fragile, and "perishable - live animal" labeling to other sides so that a delivery driver knows to be gentle.
Once it's labeled, follow your courier's pick-up procedures, and your reptile will be on it's way!
If you ever have any specific questions for shipping reptiles, feel free to reach out to us through messages on our Instagram or Facebook, and we will do our best to help you out!