If you’re involved in research, agriculture, or the live animal trade, then you might find yourself needing to mail live animals at one time or another. If that’s the case, then you probably have a lot of questions about how shipping works.
Well, we’ve put together this guide to help you understand which animals can be shipped, how to prepare them for shipping, and how much you can expect to pay, so keep reading!
Can I Ship Live Animals with USPS In 2023?
Live animals such as bees, day-old poultry, adult birds, scorpions, and some reptiles may be sent through USPS in 2023. Each type of animal has specific shipping requirements. However, general rules include using sturdy packaging, opting for the fastest shipping service available, and clearly marking the external packaging to indicate the presence of live animals.
To find out which live animals you can ship, the rules you need to follow, and the cost of mailing, check out our article for more interesting facts!
Can You Ship Live Animals Through USPS?
USPS allows customers to ship some live animals, such as the following:
- Live bees
- Live, day-old poultry- examples: chickens, ducks, emus, geese, guinea birds, partridges, pheasants (only during April through August), quail, and turkeys.
- Adult birds
- Small, harmless, cold-blooded animals- examples: frogs, lizards, worms, and newts.
What If I Need to Ship Another Type of Live Animal?
If you need to ship a live animal that doesn’t fall into another of the accepted categories listed above, then your best bet is to explore other options with a different shipping carrier.
Of all of the carriers offering this service, UPS seems to offer the most options.
What Are the Restrictions on Shipping Live Animals Through USPS?
Although USPS allows certain types of live animals to be shipped, there are quite a few restrictions to be aware of. We detail what you need to know for each group below:
1. Live Bees
Honey bees and queen honey bees must be free of disease.
Honey bees can only be sent via surface transportation and may incur special handling fees.
Queen honey bees may be sent via surface or air transportation. If sent via air, a queen may be accompanied by 8 attendant honey bees.
Mailpieces containing bees must be marked with “Live Bees” and “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only” on the address side of the container.
2. Live, Day-Old Poultry
Only chickens, ducks, emus, geese, guinea birds, partridges, pheasants, quail, and turkeys less than 24 hours old can be sent through the mail.
All other types of living, day-old poultry are nonmailable. Day-old poultry vaccinated with Newcastle disease (live virus) is also nonmailable.
Poultry must be presented for mailing in the original, unopened hatchery box from the hatchery of origin.
In addition, the date and hour of hatching should be noted on the box by a representative of the hatchery.
Packaging must be properly ventilated and constructed in order to be safely transported in the mail.
Day-old poultry should be mailed early enough in the week to avoid receipt on a Sunday or a national holiday.
Lastly, day-old poultry should be delivered within 72 hours of the time of hatching.
3. Adult Birds
To be acceptable for mailing, adult bird shipments must meet the following conditions:
- Be mailed using Priority Mail Express service
- Each bird must weigh more than 6 ounces and no more than 25 pounds
- The number of birds per parcel must follow the container manufacturer limits
- Pass a 3-day challenge test to determine if the birds can handle extreme temperatures and a reduced level of light
- Be disease-free
- Be properly packaged and able to sustain shipment without food or water
4. Live Scorpions
Scorpions can only be sent through USPS when mailed for the purposes of medical research or for the manufacture of antivenin.
They can only be sent via surface transportation and must bear the marking “Live Scorpions” on both the interior and exterior containers.
There are quite a few restrictions when it comes to packaging for scorpions.
First, they must be packed in a double container system, with each receptacle closed or fastened in order to prevent escape.
Their interior container must be made of a material that cannot be punctured by a scorpion. In addition, the inner receptacle must be surrounded by cushioning material to prevent shifting.
5. Small, Harmless, Cold-Blooded Animals
USPS allows customers to mail small, harmless cold-blooded animals, however, snakes, turtles, and turtle eggs may not be mailed.
There are a few general restrictions for animals in this group including:
- Must be able to reach their destination in good condition under normal transit time
- Must not require any food, water, or care during transport
- Must not create sanitary conditions
- Must not create bad odors
In addition to these general conditions, USPS also has more specific restrictions for subgroups.
For example, animals like baby alligators, chameleons, frogs, lizards, and salamanders must not exceed 20 inches in length.
Goldfish or tropical fish must be placed in a securely sealed primary container. This receptacle must be cushioned with enough absorbent material to take up liquid in case of a leak.
Lastly, the exterior container must be waterproof.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship Live Animals with USPS?
Normal shipping rates apply when mailing live animals. You can use USPS’ price calculator tool to estimate costs based on the weight of your package and the selected shipping method.
Flat Rate pricing is not available for shipments containing live animals.
In addition to normal postage, you may also be charged the Live Animal Transportation Fee when mailing day-old poultry.
This fee is charged an extra $0.20 per pound when day-old poultry is shipped by air via Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express to Zones 5-9.
Live animal shipments are eligible for add-on services like Collect on Delivery (COD), insurance, and signature confirmation, all of which are available for an additional fee.
Sending live animals through the USPS system is possible, but it’s important to do your homework and follow the rules. This includes checking if the animal you intend to ship is eligible, obtaining secure packaging, and following mailing instructions.