Shipping reptiles

These guidelines are according to the daytime HIGH temps. These apply to either the ORIGIN or DESTINATION temperatures.

Below 38°F: Don’t ship. Wait for warmer weather.

38-70°F: Use a heat pack.

70-92°F: DO NOT use heat pack.

92-100°F: Ship to a "Fedex staffed" facility (NOT a FedEx Office, Pak Mail, Mail Boxes Etc. or other satellite/franchise location). Your shipment will arrive early in the morning and be kept inside until the recipient picks it up.

Over 100°F: Don’t ship. Wait for cooler weather.

Amphibians and other species from cooler climates:

Below 38°F: Don’t ship. Wait for warmer weather.

38-60°F: Use a heat pack.

60-80°F: DO NOT use a heat pack. No cold pack required.

80-92°F: Use a cold pack per our directions.

Over 92°F: Don’t ship. Wait for cooler weather.

Selecting the shipping box

You must use a new cardboard box with an interior of insulating foam. The foam insulation must be at least ¾ inch thick. The box should not bear markings that indicate a dangerous or illegal item.

The box must be large enough to contain the deli cup or reptile bag, enough packing material to protect the animal, the heat or cold pack and the foam insulation.

Boxes from the US Postal service, "Priority Mail" or "Express Mail" boxes, as well as many boxes, do not meet the FedEx box standard and are NOT ALLOWED to be used for live reptile shipments. They are too thin and fragile and do not protect the live reptile sufficiently.

Shipping service restrictions

All live animals must be shipped FedEx Priority Overnight, Monday through Thursday only. An overnight Friday shipment won't arrive until Monday- that is not acceptable and not permitted.

No venomous or dangerous reptiles are to be shipped through FedEx or Absolutely NO mammals.

Reptile size restrictions

Snakes larger than 4 inches in diameter or 8 feet in length cannot be shipped with

To ship a larger reptile, you must build or buy a strong wooden crate and ship it using a freight service such as Delta Air Cargo.

How to safely pack your reptile

1) Gather your shipping supplies.

Everything you will need:
  • Insulated box of the appropriate size
  • Zip tie
  • Deli cup and/or cloth reptile bag, matched to type and size of animal
  • Heat pack
  • Cold pack
  • Self adhering label envelope
  • Harmless LIVE REPTILE label for the interior of your box

You provide the packing material (crumpled newspaper will work just fine).

You may use your own supplies, but they must meet or exceed shipping standards.

Start your heat pack two hours before shipping.

Using a cold pack

Put the cold pack in your freezer overnight. It should be fully frozen.

Pack your animal, but don’t place the cold pack until you’re ready for pickup or drop-off. This keeps the cold pack frozen longer.

When you’re ready to seal the package, wrap the cold pack in newspaper to absorb condensation. Tape the pack to the underside of the top insulation panel. Make sure there is packing material (usually crumpled newspaper) between the cold pack and the deli cup or cloth reptile bag.

2) Prepare the shipping box

Insert the insulating foam panels on the bottom and sides of your box if necessary.

Ventilate the box by punching 4 one-quarter inch holes with a Philips screwdriver. Punch them from the outside in, going through the box and the insulating foam. Do this before you put anything else (especially your reptile) in the box.

3) Create a nest with packing material

Crumpled newspaper works well. Line the bottom and sides of the box so the deli cup or reptile bag will rest securely in the nest.

Tape the heat pack to the underside of your lid, red line visible. Do not tape over the red line. Don’t use a heat pack that feels hard or stiff. The red line should be facing down towards the inside of the box.

4) Prepare the deli cup or cloth bag

Inspect the cup or bag to make sure there are no cracks, holes or weak spots.

Using a Sharpie pen, label the cup or bag with species and sex.

5) Inspect the animal

NO VENOMOUS or DANGEROUS REPTILES are to be shipped through FedEx or

Only ship a healthy animal, with good weight. We prefer not to ship when an animal is in shed. We prefer not to feed a reptile the week before shipping, to prevent regurgitation during shipping.

6) Put the animal into the container

Leave the animal room to move. Use packing material as a cushion, and to absorb any waste.

Bag—Inspect the bag to be sure there are no holes or broken seams. We prefer to use a zip tie to seal the bag for total security. Some shippers tie their bags, others use tape and some use a combination of methods. The main thing is you want the bag to be completely secured.

Cup—Tape completely around the rim. Be sure not cover the air holes. Re-punch air holes if necessary.

7) Put the container in the box

Place the cup or bag into the nesting material. The container should not have room to jostle inside the box.

Put on the top insulating foam panel/lid, with the heat pack or cold pack (if needed) facing down.

Put your receipt, care sheet and other paperwork on top of the insulating foam lid. Place your harmless LIVE REPTILE label—the one that comes with your shipping kit—on top, with the duplicate shipping address in the space provided. This harmless LIVE REPTILE note should be the first thing a person sees when opening the box.

8) Label your package in accordance with the federal Lacey Act

You are required to mark the outside of the package as "wildlife" and have itemized paperwork (i.e. customer receipt) inside the top flap with more species information and quantities available for easy reference.

9) Fasten the label and ship

If you haven’t already done so, enter your package and shipping info into and purchase your shipping label.

You can print your shipping label from the site or from your confirmation email.

If you are using a thermal label printer, the label will be self-adhesive. If you print your label on regular paper, place your label inside the provided label pouch and affix the self adhesive pouch to the top of your shipping box.

Print your FedEx FedEx reference note and tape it next to your FedEx shipping label.

We recommend dropping your package off at the actual FedEx facility. FedEx Office locations are not recommended, as many of those locations do not accept live or perishable shipments for drop off or pickup.

Find a FedEx Facility location here. Use the Filter and select the "Dangerous Goods" filter to weed out everything except the actual FedEx facilities.

What is the Lacey Act and what does it have to do with live reptile shipments?

The Lacey Act is a federal rule that addresses package labeling for interstate transport of live reptiles.

According to the Lacey Act, you are required to mark the outside of the package as "wildlife" and have your sales receipt, as well as the species (scientific names) and quantities of live harmless reptiles contained in the package. Easily available inside the top flaps with detailed species and quantity information.

Labeling the outside of the box:

California, Florida, Ohio and New York are the most vigilant about auditing packages incoming and outgoing. Be sure to label your packages clearly and appropriately, and also beware of any prohibited species in or out of these (and other) states. There is no alternative if your package is confiscated or penalized due to prohibited species or incomplete labeling.

Different states have different rules. To meet both federal and state regulations, mark the outside of the package:


Be sure to include your sales receipt, as well as the species (scientific names) and quantities of live harmless reptiles contained in the package. Inside the top of the styrofoam - it should be the first thing you see when you open the box.