How to Ship Snakes and Other Reptiles

Learn about the unconventional routes you'll need to take to ship snakes and other reptiles
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So, you want to ship a snake (or another reptile such as a lizard or an alligator). As you might imagine, the major carriers impose lots of restrictions for shipping these kinds of live animals—especially snakes. However, there are ways you can get it done, but you’ll need to slither around the system a bit. First, let’s talk about the restrictions.

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Both USPS and UPS Prohibit Shipping Snakes and Reptiles

Unfortunately, USPS doesn’t allow for the shipment of snakes. UPS also prohibits it. Before you ask, it doesn’t matter even if the snakes are venomous or non-venomous. USPS and UPS still don’t allow it.

Why Does USPS Prohibit the Shipment of Snakes?

USPS places snakes in their list of “Nonmailable Live Animals,” and you simply cannot ship them. USPS also prohibits the shipment of turtles and other poisonous reptiles. If you don’t believe us, feel free to check out article 525.3 on USPS’ website.

What If the Snake is Non-Venomous?

The answer is still no. Whether snakes are venomous or non-venomous doesn’t matter—you still can’t ship snakes with USPS.

So…How Do I Ship Snakes?

We aren’t going to lie: your options are a bit limited here. UPS also prohibits the shipment of snakes (venomous and non-venomous). However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. You can ship snakes with FedEx…but you’ll need to pass tests to receive their Live Reptile Certification, and the snakes will need to be non-venomous.

Unfortunately, receiving FedEx’s Live Reptile Certification be a pretty time-consuming (and expensive) process. That said, FedEx has partnered with several pre-certified reptile shipping companies that you can hire to ship snakes via FedEx’s network.

You Need a Special Live Reptile Certification to Ship Snakes and Reptiles with FedEx

Here’s the good news: you can ship snakes and reptiles with FedEx. In fact, they’re the only major carrier to allow for the shipment of these particular types of animals. However, you will need to obtain a special Live Reptile Certification with FedEx. That’s the bad news. In order to receive this certification you’ll need to pass a series of tests, and this can be a time-consuming, expensive process. Luckily, there are companies out there who capitalize on this niche that you can hire for shipping your snakes and other prohibited reptiles.

Use a Third-Party Niche Carrier that Partners with FedEx to Ship Snakes

The best way to ship snakes is to use a niche third-party shipping company that is pre-certified and already has deals in place with FedEx. This will save you time, money, and A LOT of headache.  These companies will even help you properly package your animal (which we suggest, since they are the pros). We’ve listed the two main reptile shipping companies below, along with a quick little blurb.

  • Ship Your Reptiles – The industry leader in shipping snakes. Volume discounts are available and you can type in your package information for a quick quote. Their rates are significantly cheaper than Reptiles2You, and it’s easy to obtain insurance.
  • Reptiles2You – More expensive than Ship Your Reptiles. They feature discounted volume rates, and you can type in your package information to obtain a free quote.

What About Shipping Other Reptiles?

Excluding snakes, you can ship most other cold-blooded animals with each of the major carriers. For example, USPS allows you to ship baby alligators, baby caimans, chameleons, frogs, lizards, newts, salamanders, toads and more. UPS allows for similar animals, As with shipping any other type of item, their rates will be more competitive than UPS’ or FedEx’s, so we suggest shipping with USPS for your other reptiles. However, it’s important to educate yourself on USPS’ restrictions for shipping reptiles, which we’ve outlined below.

  • Animals can’t be more than 20 inches in length
  • Any and all animals must be able to reach their destination in good condition within the transit time
  • Must not require any food or water during transport
  • Animals must not create sanitary problems
  • Must not create obnoxious orders

Check With Your Carrier

As always, it’s crucial to check with your carrier to see if your reptile can be shipped or not. Some carriers restrict certain reptiles, while others accept them for shipment. For example, USPS prohibits shipping turtles, but you can ship turtles with either UPS or FedEx.

Don’t Forget the Importance of Packaging

Packaging properly is crucial when it comes to shipping reptiles, no matter which shipping carrier you choose. The packaging should obviously be constructed to protect your animals from being crushed or damaged during transit, as well as prevent them from escaping. Here’s a quick list of USPS’ packaging requirements, which are generally good guidelines to abide by for shipping with any carrier:

  • Containers must be made of a minimum of 275-pound corrugated, double-wall, weather-resistant fiberboard.
  • Containers must provide adequate ventilation for the animal(s) at all times
  • Each shipping box or container needs to include a complete return address and be marked on the address side with an accurate description of the contents (for example, “Live Animals”)
  • USPS-produced packaging (such as flat rate boxes) is not eligible for use in this situation
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