Now, I know that a lot of you are seasoned shippers and likely don't need my
advice on the subject. I also know that there are a few ways to successfully ship snails. However, I've received several failed shipments where just a few mishandling issues cost many snails their lives. Nothing is more depressing (and sometimes downright devastating) than for a one of us who love these little animals to send or receive snails only to have them DOA. In fact, that's the most dreaded term I can think of when doing business shipping live animals...DOA...not a happy term...
I feel like this is an appropriate location for this discussion because this is where folks come to trade or give away snails.
I'll begin by saying I've used many methods of shipping. Wrapped in wet paper towels, not wrapped...in batting, in gladware containers...always poked an air hole in the lid of my container...even went so far as to put airline tubing in the hole and run it to the outside corner of the box so outside air could get inside the shipping container where the wrapped up snails were...in insulated boxes and without insulation...with heat packs, without...with ice packs, without...
Now, here's what I've learned over the course of approximately 300 shipments of snails to locations mostly inside the continent (but also have done 14 shipments outside of the continent).
And, please! I must give credit where credit is due! Barb (aka, sandiegofishes) is largely responsible for the success rate of my current shipping method. I received a shipment of snails from her similarly packed and I've never looked back!
I adopted and adapted her pkg method and it's been a real life saver for the snails that I ship. THANK YOU, BARB wherever you are! You ARE the best!
Okay, that being said...here's my shipping blog...
I ship snails that are young. The young snails make it thru the whole shipping process better and acclimate to a new environment much better than older snails. So, I ship them when they are around the size of a large pea up to about nickel size. I don't like to ship them once they reach the size of a quarter, so it's my policy not to do that. Besides, most folks don't realize unless you tell them...these snails are not going to live very long (in comparison to most pets). Likely 1 to 3 yrs with Brigs kept in a tropical environment. When you get a pea sized Brig, the thing's going to be breeder size within 3-5 months depending on how optimum the care is. Anyway, I don't sell breeders so I don't have to ship larger snails.
Now, I ship in insulated boxes. Unless I'm sending to someone who just doesn't think the protection from the elements is necessary (and only if that person says they are receiving shipments in uninsulated containers with great results), I insist on using an insulated box. I use Dowe/Corning house sheathing to line my boxes. It's easier to cut smoothly and easier to get a good air tight fit inside the box. Now, there's the key. A good air tight container that's insulated. Now, I can put something in there along with either a heat pack or an ice pack and have any hope of "controlling" the environment inside the container for any length of time.
Next, I have 3X8 bags that are very thin and flexible, yet very strong. I always double bag regardless (there is a regulation for USPS about double lining shipping containers of live aquatic animals, I believe...can't quote it right offhand, but you must make sure the container won't leak water). I put 1/2 an ounce of room temperature tap water treated with Seachem Prime into the bag, put the snail in the bag, inflate the rest of the bag with air from airline tubing attached to an aquarium air pump...tie the bag shut tightly. Put the bag inside of another bag, squeeze out the excess air in the second bag so it fits around the first bag like a sleeve...I tape the second bag shut.
Now, these bags get packed inside the insulated box with enough paper shreds to have the bags packed in tight. This will prevent a lot of jostling inside the box due to empty space. If I use an ice pack, it'll be in the bottom of the box with a good layer of paper shreds between it and the bags of snails. If I use a heat pack, it will be on the top side with a thick layer of paper between the bags of snails and the heat pack. I used to tape the heat packs to the inside of the lid, but I don't really mess around with that too much anymore. It's kind of wasted time. Once the heat pack gets hot, it'll make the tape let go anyway. So, I just make sure that there's no head space left in the package for the heat pack to get jostled down against the bags of snails (I've been the sad receiver of a few cooked snails as a direct result of this same issue).
Tape the boxes securely. I don't spare any tape. I start at one side of the lid with my tape and go all the way around the box twice before breaking off the tape. This secures the top to the bottom of the box and is not usually going to come open for any reason! That's pretty important.
I mark the pkg. perishable. I always identify that there are live aquarium snails in the pkg.
Okay, I think that about covers my shipping method of preference. I've come to the point where I won't even buy snails from anyone who ships in gladware containers, etc. If they don't use the bag method that I use, I simply won't be purchasing snails from them. I've received far too many DOA snails from folks using alternate methods.
I've had a lot of positive feedback about snails arriving and "trolling around" inside the bags when the customers got them. I'm usually told that they arrive open and moving around and get thru acclimation great. There is never usually any issues with snails closing up and remaining closed up for long periods of time after being shipped this way.
I've received snails shipped in wet paper towels in plastic containers that sometimes take hours and even days to open up. These snails have been so stressed and weakened by the shipping process that healthy snails in my tanks will eat them, taking them for dead...I guess. I have to QT the weak snails for weeks before turning them loose in a tank full of Brigs. Otherwise, they may not make the first several hours in the tank without being mistaken for dead and eaten...
This really has happened. Now, I can't be 100% sure that the snails wouldn't have died anyway. As I said, they are severely stressed and weak...
Okay, enough from me...
Lets hear from some of you other folks on your shipping experiences and what they've taught you!
P.S. I don't think know everything or that I've learned everything there is to learn about the whole shipping thing. I'm still learning all the time. But, here's where I think I have an advantage. I really want to learn how to do this to the best advantage of the snails being subjected to being crammed into a box and sent to "who-knows-where". That's an advantage, I believe. A willingness to learn and to change what doesn't work well. I fully intend to continue to improve my shipping methods until I'm at 100% survival! I'm at 99% now.