Another Winter shipping question.

GeckoRing

New Member
Messages
366
Location
Northern California
I normally do not ship if the overnight weather below 40. I have several eager customers back east, waiting, waiting, waiting, with no change in site. Now, everyone wants these geckos to be safe, is there a safe way to ship if the night temps are in the 30's? Double boxed with heat packs in both inner and outer boxes? Let me know what your experience with this is.
 

paulnj

New Member
Messages
10,508
Location
NJ USA
Well I recieved a box of healthy animals last week. I opened the door and it was 20-24 degrees at 9:45 am with overnight lows in kentucky in the teens.

3/4 insulation, 1 - 40hr heatpack with an inside temp no higher that 70 when I opened the box. Those geckos all ate that day, are healthy and growing like weeds.

I won't say who sent them, but I know they knew what they were doing.

BTW..... I would rather get a gecko at 60 degrees in the box than 100 degrees. Some people brumate at 60 ;)
 

Golden Gate Geckos

Mean Old Gecko Lady
Messages
12,731
Location
SF Bay Area
This time of year is very tricky for shipping, especially when the origin and destination temperatures are very different. For example, I've been waiting for a little N. wheeleri to get shipped to me from Florida where the temperatures are in the 60's and 70's, but the overnight lows in Louisville, KY (UPS hub) are in the teens. One heat-pack will raise the internal box temps up to 15-20 degrees, but would not hold up with the overnight lows in KY. If 2 heat-packs were used, the gecko would overheat and could die before it even got to the sub-freezing hub.

It is better to err on the side of too cool than too hot, but temperatures below freezing will render the heat-pack useless.

IMO, if there is ANY doubt about the safety of shipping... don't do it! I am aware of two different examples of DOA's just in the past 2 weeks, and it's very tragic.
 

Gecko Ranch

New Member
Messages
456
Location
In the sticks near Woodland, CA
Winter shipping is a very tricky thing indeed. Even more tricky are season transitions from winter to spring and summer to fall where there may be drastically different temps in hubs the geckos will go through. Using my techniques 30fs are definitely doable with leopards, read on.

My experiences are with UPS. When shipping geckos to the northeast, the geckos will most likely go through Rockford, IL. This is the major problem hub for geckos to go through as it is often under 30F. I always do a weather (weather.com) check before shipping, and often that makes my work real short as if that hub is under 30F there is no shipping! If you do get shipping good shipping conditions the geckos will arrive at Rockford about 1:00am and will sit there for about 3-4 hours before leaving. Important to know!

Shipping to the Southeast is a little easier as the geckos have to go through the Louisville, KY hub, which is usually much milder than Rockford, IL.

After checking these two hubs then I'll check the local arrival temps and local routing if I know it. Shipping UPS you can print out the complete tracking and this is a good idea to get to know the routing, especially for places you do not ship very often. I save these and use them as a reference as needed. Of course thanks to their "security" UPS is no help here, and you can never be 100% sure the same routing will be used again. Once an agent told me part of it depends on how heavy the loads are on that particular night. That does make sense!

I have been shipping leopard geckos successfully in the 30Fs using only 1/4" foam boxes and one RLD Enterprises "Heat Source" 60hr heat pack. These are outstanding heat packs and believe me, all heat packs are NOT equal. Do not make the mistake of treating them as such. Heatpacks from different manufacturers can vary highly in terms of heat quality and failure rate. I think I have had one failure in an RLD heat pack in the last two years. I do fire them up before sealing the box to make sure they work. I learned through some studies I did that heat packs of that size (60hrs) actually need about 2-3 hours to even get going!

This year I switched to 3/4" foam as folks gave me feedback the geckos arrived very cold. No DOAs, but just cold. They all recovered fine. Heatpack still putting out though! So, I did some experiments with temps in the 30s outside my house with radio controlled temperature monitoring, getting up at all hours and recording data. The box was placed about 4" high in an exposed area under an eve of my house. The box was packed just like I do normally for winter shipping, and the temp. sensor was placed in the deli cup where the gecko would be.

Materials: 16x9x6 Superior Enterprises 3/4" foam box.

Experiment #1: RLD Enterprises 60hr heat pack

Start time 4:30pm (usually when I head to UPS with the geckos)
Time Ambient temp Temp diff (ambient and box) Box temp
6:20pm 45.5F 23.9 69.4
9:19pm 39.2 22.9 62.1
12:00am 37.8 19.9 57.7
1:50am 37.2 19.8 57.0
3:28am 34.9 20.1 55.0
7:58am 33.1 17.6 50.7
10:00am 41.0 12.2 53.2
12:36pm 48.6 10.4 59.0
4:26pm 49.8 14.8 64.6

Experiment #2 RLD Enterprises 2 60 hour heat packs

4:42pm 49.1 15.8 64.9
6:00pm 47.1 22.0 69.1
8:00pm 43.9 27.5 71.4
10:00pm 43.0 28.6 71.6
12:00am 39.9 29.9 69.8
1:40am 40.8 28.3 69.1
3:00am 37.9 30.1 68.0
4:30am 36.0 29.8 65.8
9:00am 37.0 25.1 62.1
10:30am 41.7 22.2 63.9
12:15pm 49.1 18.9 68.0
2:00pm 51.8 20.3 72.1
4:00pm 52.2 22.8 75.0

Experiment # 3 RLD Enterprises 60hr and 35hr heat pack together

4:30pm 51.3 19 70.3
6:00pm 49.5 18.7 68.2
8:00pm 48.9 20.0 68.9
10:00pm 48.6 20.7 69.3
12:00am 48.2 21.1 69.3
1:00am 47.5 21.6 69.1
4:29am 46.8 20.7 67.5
8:30am 47.7 19.4 67.1
12:27pm 52.2 17.1 69.3
4:06pm 51.4 18.9 70.3
10:00pm 49.6 19.5 69.1

So, before interpreting this data (I have more data points but will put those together for some charts at a later date), we need to understand how the different heat packs 60hr vs. 35hr work. The 60 hours peak more slowly (lower 100s) and at lower temps than a 35hr (temps above 120F not uncommon). This is true for heat packs in general, not just RLD Enterprises heat packs.

These tests showed me that two RLD 60 hours were great for severe weather conditions in the 30Fs. The box never got colder than 60F during a very cold night here (30-40s), that is fantastic! You can look at the center figure (Box temp-ambient temp) to get the idea of the power of the heat pack(s) being used. If temps are not lower or much higher than upper 40Fs the combo of the 35 and 60 hour packs are good.

Here's a shipping clinic I did for more info:

http://www.geckoranch.com/shippingclinic.html
 
L

LadyGecko

Guest
That is some great info

I am afraid that I am very paranoid about winter shipping
If the "package" gets delayed or lost and the heat packs fail (run past the time of use) in extreme cold-then you can kiss the animals goodbye

It has not been much above zero here in N. Central IL. at night this month
Most of the days here have barely been above freezing if it makes ti that warm so I would not even consider having any animals shipped out this way

I had a bad experience last year from someone that forgot to double pack the gecko and it arrived frozen

I will NEVER let anyone talk me into agreeing into having something shipped in below freezing temps again

Just my .02

Sandy
 
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Chiefmcfuz

Member
Messages
215
Well I am very new to the reptile scene but I have been in the reefing hobby for a few years and my philosophy is impatient people need to learn patience. The animals we care for are alive and need to stay that way and that means people can wait for better shipping conditions if they want their animals to arrive alive and stay healthy. May sound a bit harsh but it's how I feel.
 

Gecko Ranch

New Member
Messages
456
Location
In the sticks near Woodland, CA
Brendan, you make an excellent point. Something that works with my customers is "You don't want to open the box with a dead gecko in it." You have to be good at setting limits, that's for sure. Ironically the parents of children who are getting geckos from me are far less understanding of having to be patient and wait for the right weather conditions than their children. Many parents are under the illusion that their children are not capable of understanding this. Parents continually underestimate what their children are capable of understanding...

Sandy, wow, you have been on the short end of the gecko shipping process. I feel for you. Shipping geckos in extreme weather conditions takes a lot of experience and indeed, to ship below freezing is foolhardy to say the least. It becomes harder and harder for the heat packs to work as temps get lower and lower.

One nice thing about the RLD Enterprises "Heat Source" heat packs is that the 60s work far beyond the normal delivery times of overnight shipping (check my data points above). If you use UPS they are super-reliable as well. Personally I will not ship geckos past Wed. of the week except in same state shipping situations, and even then I don't like to do that. You do not want to risk the geckos sitting anywhere over the weekend, even with a company with a great on-time record like UPS.
 
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