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Need to ship a gecko? This is something that is done regularly in our industry. Sometimes it’s the only way to safely and effectively get a gecko to its new home. This can be stressful not only on the gecko but the shipper, especially if it’s your first few times shipping. These 5 tips to better shipping will point out some things you might not think about as a new shipper.

Confirm Info

This is something I do with all live shipments. Before shipping any live package make sure to confirm the recipient’s address. It might seem kind of trivial but a slight error in the address could cause confusion with the delivery driver which may result in the box riding on the truck all day. With extreme temperatures this could cause major injury or worse for the animal. Also get your customer’s phone number to put on the shipping label or in case you need to contact them quickly.

Around Christmas is the peak of shipping. This is when UPS experiences the largest volume of packages all year. Don’t ship any live packages several weeks before Christmas as the next day service won’t be guaranteed overnight.

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Know Your Temps

Temperatures are very critical when shipping. These temperatures will determine if you are going to use a heat pack, cold pack, no packs or not ship at all. Use the National Weather Service or The Weather Channel to check the forecast for both your area and your customers. One thing most people overlook is the forecast at your shipping carrier’s hub. This is important because the package will spend several hours in this location while it’s being sorted. I use UPS for shipping and their main distribution hubs are in Ontario, CA for the west coast and Louisville, KY from the Rocky Mountains to the east coast.

If high temperatures are above 93 degrees or below freezing at night consider not shipping. This would apply to both the UPS hub and your customer’s destination. Make sure there is not inclement weather such as a hurricane, ice storm, tornadoes etc. that may be in the area you are shipping to. If this is the case absolutely delay shipping. It’s better to wait for better weather than to have a dead shipment. Remember you are the shipper and are responsible for the shipment getting to its destination in one piece.

Hold for Pickup

gecko-shipping-packed
This option can be handy when areas are experiencing extreme temperatures. Essentially your package will be sent to the UPS Customer Service Center closest to your customer and held there for pickup. Go to the UPS website and use their location search tool. Enter your customer’s address to find the closest Customer Center. The address that is listed is the location to which you will ship the package. Make sure to add “hold for pickup” if you create and print your own label at home. UPS can provide you with a hold for pickup sticker with your customer’s phone number. When the package is ready for pickup your customer will receive a call letting them know. Most packages are ready by 8:30am the day after shipping although some may be a few hours later.

Again though, if there is ice or snow on the ground or if temperatures are above or below what’s mentioned above, delay shipping.

Heat and Cold Packs

heating-pack
The use of heat or cold packs insures your shipment arrives in good condition but it can sometimes be confusing as to when to use them. As a general rule I use heat packs when the high temperature is 70 degrees or below. I use 40 hour heat packs for all shipments that require one. Don’t ever place the heat pack where it will touch the deli cup containing the gecko as the surface of the pack reaches a peak temperature of 110 degrees. For high temperatures that are from 70 degrees to around 80 degrees I use no heat or cold pack. For temperatures above 80 degrees to 93 I use a cold pack that has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours. I would wait on shipping with temperatures over 93 degrees.

Who to Use for Shipping

I prefer to use UPS for all my live shipping needs. Another service that people successfully use is FedEx. However their terms for live animal shipping will differ from UPS so be sure you have everything needed to ship with them.

After your box is packed you will need to go to UPS for shipping. The best place to take them is the main Customer Service Center in your area. They will accept any package even if it’s live. You can also try a UPS Store but they may not accept a live shipment. This is because most stores are franchised and the individual owner sets the policies for their store. You may be able to contact corporate and have them approve you to send live animals from a specific store but there are no guarantees. If you ship often you might be able to work out an agreement for you to ship.

Along with my step-by-step shipping guide I hope these tips aid you in your shipping ventures. Knowing these techniques will help you make better decisions when shipping and keep your animals safer. Happy shipping!

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Cody Castellanos is the owner of Pro Geckos and works with various gecko species including leopard, fat tails and Nephrurus. He also stocks a full line of supplies to meet all your needs.

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