Posting Invertebrates: Best Practises

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When posting invertebrates there are a few points to bear in mind that will help reduce the stress on the animals and ensure they arrive in top condition. The methods here are those I use when posting invertebrates, and have excellent success rates.

General Considerations

  • Reduce the amount of time that the animals spend in transit. Send by recorded or next day delivery, and time posting to ensure the package will not be left waiting in the Post Office over the weekend. This means posting 1st class items on Monday-Thursday, and next day delivery on Friday only if the buyer will definitely be in. Communicate with your buyer/seller to arrange a suitable posting date.
  • Ensure that the package is secure, use sticky tape to secure the containers the animals are in, and to reinforce the seals on envelopes. Pack any free space in boxes/envelopes with crumpled newspaper (which also provides insulation).
  • Label the package as Fragile, and if needed indicate which way up it should be handled. It is better to pack the invertebrates so that they are perfectly safe if the package is handled the wrong way up.
  • If the animals are sensitive to extreme heat or cold, then it may be neccessary to pack them with a heat pack, or an ice pack. Make sure that the animals cannot damage themselves on these by placing them next to, and not in, the animals' container.

Stick & Leaf Insects
Pack in a sturdy box - smaller species and individuals can be packed in the containers used for livefood crickets. Larger species will require ice-cream tubs or similar. Cut a length of foodplant that can be securely wedged across the diagonal of the box. The foodplant can be kept fresh by wrapping the cut end in moist kitchen paper, and then tin foil to secure. For young nymphs ensure there is ample to space to moult if needed. Larger nymphs must not be sent if a moult is imminent.

Snails & Slugs
Should be packed in a relatively small box to prevent damage is the package is manhandled. Pack the remaining space with peat, or preferably sphagnum moss, and if desired place some food for the journey. Babies of very small species can be sent in small plastic boxes packed with leaves for food (e.g. cabbage, dandelion). Empty film canisters make ideal transport for snails that fit inside them. Ensure the snails are facing the opening so that they may exit on their own accord (larger species facing the other way can be hard to remove safely).

Aquatic Snails
Sould be sent in moist sphagnum moss (or suitable synthetic material) if, like many species, they can survive out of the water (many snails can live in these conditions for a number of weeks). Other species will need to be placed in a bag 1/3 full of water, and the rest inflated with air. Both types should be sent in a rigid container, and not given food. Do not starve the snails before sending.

Cockroaches
Should be sent as for terrestrial snails, but instead of sphagnum moss it is possible to use egg cartons cut to fit the container, or crumpled newspaper. It is important to give extra attention to securing the container.

Beetles
Adults should be sent as for cockroaches - with moist sphagnum moss or a dry substrate chosen depending on the native conditions of the species. Larvae should be sent in a box packed with leaf litter.

Millipedes
Should be sent in a box packed with moist sphagnum moss or a suitable deciduous leaf litter. Give some food, and ensure the substrate does not move around if the container is held upside down.

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