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  • Writer's pictureMike

Shipping reptiles and amphibians across the country.

Shipping reptiles during winter months is a delicate business.

It requires animal, that rarely experiences low temperature exposure to be out in a extreme weather. We try to alleviate this by transporting reptiles and amphibians in insulated container, using reflective layers of insulation and by providing heat sources to offset outside extremes.

Properly designed winter shipping box is crucial. We use compressed polistyrene boxes (commonly referred to as styros) with appropriate density (denser the material, better R-value per inch of thickness) and appropriate thickness. Thicker the box , better the insulation. One piece boxes are better than panel boxes.

Insulation that box provides, helps maintaining initial temperature inside the box and will prevent sudden temperature changes. However, it will only slow down heat loss and at some point temperature inside and outside of the box will be the same, so time is always of essence when shipping live animals. Travel time equals exposure time. Shorter it is, the less heat loss and better chances for stable and optimal temperature inside the box during trip.

We can extend safe and stable condition time or prevent speed of heat loss by using internal heat source inside the box, by placing a warm gel pad, bottle with warm water or a chemical heat pack inside with animals.

There are many limitations when using this method and selection of right box size and proper heat sources with the time needed to travel is very complex matter, where success and failure is separated by a very thin line.

Time of travel matters greatly. Longer the travel, more difficult to shelter from heat loss. Putting more heat pack to extend protection will not work, as heat packs consume same critical gas for animals needing to survive - oxygen. Same rule applies when shipping during particularly cold weather. Heat loss would be more rapid and heat pack will not be able to compensate for its loss during particularly cold day.

Using expedited level of service, in theory, buys more control over how fast package is transported, in what conditions and at what level of attention.

Economy level of service provides inexpensive cost of travel, but also limited oversight, uncertain storage or transport conditions and longer transfer times.

Choosing one over the other depends on how cold is outside and how long it would take to move package from A to B.

Safely shipping live animals is expensive. That cost cannot be compared to non animate object bought on line and shipped by courier. Packages moved by shipping giants like FedEx or UPS can move box fast and inexpensive, but there is zero oversight to safety, temperature and time that package remains exposed to cold. Also couriers, if they accept live package at all, offer no live arrival guarantee and make you wave their liability for any negligence or wrongdoing.

We have been shipping live reptiles across Canada since 1995. Every week to most provinces in every weather. Peak of hot summer and in negative 30 in February. Our choice of shipping comes from 25 years of experience.

We prefer situation, where we have maximum control and influence on how animals are handled. This mean, we ship by either one of main airlines and sometimes we partner with local couriers for a direct drive to final point of travel where we actually have a mean to pass instruction on how to handle our shipments. Reptile forums are full of horror stories of animals lost in transit, left outside by courier driver overnight or at destination. This happens, because large courier does not have special protocols and training in place to provide safe service.

Shipping by airline does not have to break a bank. We have one of best shipping rates with airlines in live animal category. Using those rates we can ship safe and on budget. Unlike couriers, we do guarantee live arrival and we can offer additional insurance against accidents and delays purchased straight from carrier. Safety of your new pet is very important not only to you, but to us as well.

We have partnered with both WestJet and Air Canada to cover most locations that have access to the airport.

If you have any questions in regards to live animal shipping, please contact me from website using existing means.

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