Protecting Yourself as a Vendor: A Guide to Packaging and Shipping Flora and Fauna
When dealing with live shipments, following packaging and shipping protocol is vital to protecting yourself. Because we pride ourselves on our dedication to connecting people from around the world with exotic and beautiful fauna and flora, we maintain high standards for packaging and shipping so that these incredible creatures will survive and thrive as they reach their new home. This guide will not only instruct you on the basics to achieve this goal, but it will also help you protect yourself and your reputation as a merchant.
All precautions must be taken to ensure live delivery. The following instructions are intended only as guidelines. The specific needs of your plants and animals may vary, and so these instructions should be regarded as a mere minimum.
Protecting Yourself as a Merchant
Document and record all stages of the process. Copies of the animal’s last vet check-up (if there was one), receipts from shipping, and similar documents should be copied and saved. Also keep a separate record with the following information: purchaser, purchaser’s address and contact information, item purchased, date you shipped the item, relevant weather conditions and temperature, estimated delivery time, contact with the purchaser, and any other relevant notes including precautions taken.
Label every package and container you send, even if you are only sending one item. Basic white labels or tabs can be used. These should be attached to each individual container and are separate from the mailing labels and labels your shipping agency will require.
Tracking and Confirmation
Always obtain a tracking number and signature delivery confirmation.
You should receive the tracking number when you mail the package, either on the receipt or a separate bill. If you lose the tracking number, contact your shipper and give them all of the relevant information, including delivery address, date shipped, and originating address.
You can request delivery confirmation at the time you pay for shipping. Ask for signature delivery confirmation so that the purchaser must sign to receive the package.
Contact the purchaser after the delivery is shipped to inform them of the estimated delivery time, tracking number, shipping service provider, and delivery confirmation.
Remember that you are responsible for making sure that the sale of your animal or plant is legal. Different states and countries have different laws regarding the sale and transportation of exotic animals and plants. You need to make sure that you are up to date on relevant laws. You are also responsible for meeting any additional requirements which your state or the destination state requires.
FloraFauna is integrated with UPS and FedEx for fulfillment service shipping and hopes to associate with others in the near future. The packaging and shipping requirements are based off UPS and FedEx requirements.
Animals must be packaged and shipped in new boxes. For dry shipments, you must use corrugated boxes with a minimum of 275# bursting strength or a 44 edge crush test. For shipments involving any moisture or humidity, these boxes should be wax coated or plastic corrugated as well. You will then need a Styrofoam animal or reptile container to actually hold the animal.
Lizards, snakes, and geckos should be individually contained in the Styrofoam box in breathable material such as burlap or reptile bags. Insects must be contained individually in plastic jars with sufficient ventilation. Fish must be double bagged with each bag having a minimum thickness of 4 millimeters. The water should fill approximately 1/3 of the bag. For all of these containers, seal the edges with tape to ensure that it does not open up in transit. Sufficient food should be included in the containers as necessary.
Place newspaper or packing peanuts on the bottom of the Styrofoam box and then place the animals in their individual containers inside the Styrofoam box. Secure the animals with padding but do not bury them. Attach the heating or cooling pad, if appropriate, to the inside of the Styrofoam lid, but do not prepare or attach these pads until less than a half hour before shipping. These pads will help control the temperature and make the animal’s trip more comfortable. Seal the lid on the Styrofoam container.
Place the Styrofoam box inside the larger box. Use packing peanuts or newspapers to pad it, and then seal the box. Ship immediately after packaging through either overnight delivery or same day delivery.
Water the plant sufficiently for its kind 4 – 6 hours before digging the plant up. When it is time to dig up the plant, be very gentle with the root system. Dig out at least 5 inches from the main stem. It is better to dig up too much soil than to dig too close and risk killing or harming the plant. Brush away the soil and rinse the roots. If appropriate, clean the leaves and foliage gently. Make sure there are no insects or parasites living on the plant.
Soak a few sheets of newspaper with water and roll the paper around the plant roots. Do not cover the foliage. Fold up the bottom of the newspaper tube. Secure it with plastic wrap but do not seal the bottom or the top as this may cause rot. Make sure that the plastic wrap is not so tight that it bruises the roots or stems.
Line a smaller box with a plastic liner or bag. Place the plant gently inside. So long as the plants are labeled, you can place more than one plant in each individual box. Slip another plastic bag over the top of the box to loosely seal it. Then slip another bag over that one, covering up the opening of the other bag. This creates a protective area that forms a greenhouse and protects the plants. Now slide the box into the sturdy cardboard box and prepare it for shipping.
Do not let the plant sit in direct sunlight or weather, even when in the box. Ship shortly after packaging.
Shipping Live Animals and Plants
FedEx does not accept live animals for shipment as a part of its regular schedule, so shipments must be coordinated. To coordinate, you must call the FedEx Live Animal Desk 1-800-405-9052. To ship exotic animals such as reptiles, you must also be certified. To do this, you create a FedEx account and register as a business. After this, call your FedEx office and inform them that you want to become certified to ship reptiles or the like. They will send you the necessary links and forms, and you will ultimately have to submit a test package to demonstrate your competency. Aside from animals that are illegal to ship, FedEx does not restrict animal shipments it accepts so long as all of the above requirements are met.
UPS accepts shipment for all amphibians, crustaceans, fish, mollusks, and worms. However, UPS will only ship beneficial insects and certain kinds of lizards and turtles. UPS will not ship any arachnid, bird, crocodilian, mammal, obnoxious insect, or snake. They also refuse to ship venomous animals or any threatened or endangered species.
General Shipping Information
All live shipments must be through overnight or same day delivery.
Prepare your labels before packing the animals or plants, and ship them as soon as possible after packaging.
Inform the shipping company of your choice what you are shipping. Do not attempt to ship an illegal or unacceptable plant or animal. Shipping services may inspect your packages due to smell, leakage, improper packaging, etc. If you are caught shipping an illegal animal or plant, it may be seized and you may face legal action or fines.
Be sure to get your tracking number and request a signature delivery confirmation. Then contact your purchaser to let them know that their new animal or plant is safely on its way.