You will need the following materials for shipping your gecko
- Insulated box
- Heat or cold pack
- Newspaper or Styrofoam peanuts
- Deli cup
- Paper towel
- Some type of punch
First you will need an insulated box. There are several different
sizes available. I use (7” x 7” x 6”), (12" x
9" x 6") and (15" x 11" x 7"). The first
two have Styrofoam lining that is 1/2 inch thick while the
last one is 3/4 inch thick. Thicker boxes have better insulation.
Choosing a size box depends greatly on how many animals
are being shipped.
Assemble the box taping all cracks and add the Styrofoam lining
as well. Punch a single hole on the smallest length side and put
them on each side of the box. The holes are punched through the cardboard
box and the Styrofoam and allow for a little air flow. I use a scratch
awl to punch the holes. You can use anything such as a screw driver
to do this as long as the holes are smaller than the thickness of
a pencil. Holes really aren’t required but I like to add them.
You should only ship when the daytime temperatures in your area,
the shipping company hubs and the destination is no less than 40
degrees and no more than 95 degrees. Shipping out of this range should
never be attempted as it puts the animals life at risk. At what temperature
would you use heat packs or cold packs? Generally when the temperatures
are between 60 to 80 degrees there is no need for a heat or cold
pack. Below 60 degrees a heat pack should be used and above 80 degrees
a cold pack should be used.
For Summer- Cold Packs
You may need to use a cold pack for the summer and here’s
how to prepare and place it in the box. I mainly use the 8 ounce
bag that measures 5" x 7". There is also a 1 pound bag
available that measures 5" x 10". Take the cold pack and
wrap it about 2 times in newspaper. You can tape it so the paper
move but if the paper is large enough tape is not needed. Place the
pack in the corner of the box or on the shortest length side. Make
sure that when the geckos are placed in the box they are not right
on the cold pack. Cold packs generally
last 4 to 8 hours depending on temperatures.
Process in order from left to right:
Cold Pack Wrapped
For Winter - Heat Packs
In the winter months you’ll need heat packs when the temperatures
are below 60 degrees. I use 40 hour heat packs. Heat packs should
be preheated before they are placed in the box. Open the pack, shake
it real good to activate its contents and make sure the red line
is exposed to air as this is where the perforated holes are. If the
side with the red line is laid on a surface the pack won’t
heat as it’s not getting air. They usually take 30 to 45 minutes
to completely activate. Its peak surface temperature is approximately
110 degrees which it reaches between 17 to 19 hours. Tape the pack
to the shortest length side with the red line facing toward the inside
of the box. This is important because if the red line is placed against
the Styrofoam it won’t work properly. How many heat packs do
you add to the box? This depends on your daytime temperatures, the
shipping company hubs and the destination. Each heat pack is capable
of raising the temperature in the box 12 to 16 degrees. One heat
pack per box is usually fine. If the daytime highs are around 40
degrees two heat packs can be used on the shortest length sides because
the night time temperatures will be lower.
Process in order from left to right:
40 Hour Heat Pack
Attached to Box
With the heat or cold packs now ready and in place we
need to get the gecko ready by putting them in deli cups. These are
plastic containers that will be placed in the box. Deli cups are
sold in several styles with many different sizes to suit your needs.
They also come not punched or pre-punched. The pre-punched are excellent
because the air holes are already made for you. For my baby and juvenile
leopard geckos I use an 8oz or 12 ounce cup that has a diameter of
4 1/2 inches. Large full grown adults may also be put in a cup that
has a diameter of 6 3/4 inches. Choosing the right size is critical
because the box is guaranteed to be tossed around. If the deli cup
is too large the gecko will be slapped around inside the cup as the
box is tossed or dropped. If they are a little more snug you can
make it less stressful for them. Never place more than one animal
per deli cup.
Once you have the correct size deli cup fold a paper towel
and place it in the cup. This is used to give them a little cushion
and to absorb any of their waste.
Now place the gecko in the deli cup and fascine the
lid. Make sure it is completely on as you don’t want them to
Now with the gecko ready we can start packing the box.
There are two different ways of doing this. One is using newspaper
and the other Styrofoam peanuts. I've been using peanuts for
a while now and prefer them over newspaper. They really add more
insulation to the package and diffuse heat and cold rather than
absorbing it like newspaper seems to do. I will show both methods
below with newspaper being on the left and peanuts on the right.
Place a small layer of either newspaper or Styrofoam
peanuts as a base. This works great for just a few geckos as it supports
them and adds more insulation between the gecko and the outside of
the box. If you are sending more than 4 geckos or have larger deli
cups you don’t have to do this and can just place them on the
Styrofoam box lining.
Crunch the newspaper up placing it tightly on the bottom of
Place enough Styrofoam peanuts
on the bottom of the box so it's covered. Any type of peanut
will work and it’s
ok if you have different types mixed together.
If you are shipping one gecko then place the cup in the middle
of the box. Do this for both newspaper and peanuts.
If you are shipping multiple geckos they can be stacked on
one another or placed side by side. Remember if you are using a heat
or cold pack don’t put the deli cup right by them. Do this
for both newspaper and peanuts.
With the deli cup in the box put newspaper
around and on top of the deli cup so it has a snug fit. This
keeps the deli cup secure from moving.
With the deli cup in the box fill
the remaining space with peanuts. Make sure every space is packed
Place the Styrofoam lid on and seal up the box. When
taping the box I tape every crack. Tape the center of the flaps as
well as on the side splits making an 'H' appearance. This helps better
insulate the box.
You are now finished packing and your geckos are ready to
be shipped. There are several serves you can use including UPS, FedEx
and Delta Dash. I ship and prefer to use UPS Next Day Air that guaranteed
to arrive before 10:30am.
There is a new shipping service call Ship
Your Reptiles. This service
allows you to ship your animals overnight with huge discounts from
This was written with Leopard geckos as an example but this
method works with any type of small reptile such as other
lizards, geckos, turtles, tortoises and even some snakes.