Shipping Live Herps Responsibly and Ethically - Feb 28, 2021

It is critical for reptile and amphibian owners, breeders, sellers, and buyers to understand that you and your animals are ambassadors for herpetoculture. The way that you present your animals and yourselves reflects upon the entire herpetocultural community.

Animal welfare is both a priority and a special concern when shipping live reptiles. When conditions around shipping pose a hazard that cannot be otherwise mitigated, reptiles should not be shipped.

During seasonal weather extremes, shipment of animals should be avoided. Wait to ship until favorable conditions are present. Prolonged severe weather conditions at any time of year can likewise detrimentally impact both shipping conditions and the shipping company’s ability to safely deliver a package within a safe timeframe. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted shipping and delivery concerns overall, and this does affect the shipment of reptiles. Additionally, the day of the week significantly impacts the safety of shipping; ideally, animals should only be shipped for delivery on days of the week that have business days immediately following (i.e. do not ship on Fridays or weekends) and avoid shipping on or the day prior to major holidays, in case any problems or delays are encountered.

Always communicate in advance with your certified shipping service provider of choice and the company that will be shipping your reptile to ensure that there are no reported hazards or severe weather events that might affect any shipments you intend to send. Continue to check for any updates as your intended shipping time approaches. Carefully read the policies of both your certified shipping service provider and your shipping company. Before handing off any package containing reptiles for shipment, check again with the shipping facility that no delays are anticipated. Once your package has left your possession, it may not be possible to reclaim it.

Certified shipping service providers have developed precise guidelines for packaging that is approved for the safe shipment of live reptiles. These providers have some variation in the exact temperatures they declare safe for the shipment of live reptiles and when heat or cold packs should be used. Be sure to refer to your certified shipping service provider of choice for recommendations on which heat or cold packs should be used, and the protocol on how they should be utilized.

Finally, when arranging to ship a live reptile, is it vital that the shipper verify weather conditions not only at their site of origin and delivery, but also at any shipping hubs that are likely to be utilized for the processing and express delivery of the package. Even packages with an origin and destination within the same state may require routing to a processing hub located far out of state. Also, shipments going from one warm state to another warm state may still stop in a hub experiencing bad weather and delays.

Along with avoiding issues due to inclement weather, always be sure to know and follow proper best shipping practices and procedures. These protocols are offered by service providers and must always be obeyed.

As one last reminder, be sure to know the shipping policies for the carrier being used. Each company has specific criteria including which species they allow, container requirements, labeling, etc. You must know these aspects of responsible shipping before arranging shipments, or even before offering animals to be shipped.

Thank you for representing herpetoculture responsibly by ensuring safe and sound shipping practices. Anything less is unacceptable for the animals, your businesses, and our community. Have a good day.