If you're planning a cross-country move this winter or spring, you may already be investigating your options for safe and efficient transport of your household belongings. However, owning (and having to move) several or more reptiles can throw a wrench into even the most carefully crafted plans. You can't simply put your snake or lizard's aquarium into a moving box or unheated box truck for a few days when temperatures are low. How can you keep your reptiles safe during the moving process without costing yourself an arm and a leg? Read on to learn more about the logistics of shipping reptiles.
How can your reptiles be transported safely and humanely?
Although mammalian pets like dogs, cats, and hamsters can sometimes be difficult to transport cross-country, they have the advantage of being warm-blooded, allowing them to withstand around the same temperature range as humans without suffering physical consequences. Because reptiles are cold-blooded, keeping them exposed to cool or cold temperatures for an extended period of time could send them into hypothermia or even kill them. As a result, it's crucial to ensure you'll be able to keep your reptiles warm during the duration of the move to avoid long-term health consequences.
The safest way to ship your reptiles largely depends on the temperature during your move. If it's below freezing outside, you'll probably want to avoid shipping by a box truck or train as it can be difficult to regulate the temperature of the shipping box for several days or more if the cargo area of the truck or train is not heated. This temperature control difficulty can be compounded if the box will spend much time outside, such as sitting on a shipping dock during loading and unloading. In this situation, travel by plane or even in the passenger area of the moving truck may be recommended.
If it's a bit warmer outside or your move shouldn't last longer than a day or two, you may be able to get by with an insulated box and heat pack to help keep your pet at a constant and comfortable temperature. You'll also need to supply your reptile with water -- a natural sponge soaked with heated water can often do the trick.
Which packing supplies should you use to pack and ship your reptiles?
The best way to maintain temperature control is to use a heavily insulated box (with air holes) to ship your reptiles. Styrofoam or soy foam is a good option, as it helps to both prevent heat transfer and cushion impact. You'll also want to use a heat pack, like those sold in camping supply stores, to provide your reptile with somewhere warm to rest. This box should be explicitly labeled "Fragile - Pet" to ensure that the movers won't inadvertently jostle it or place it beneath something that blocks the air holes.