How to Transport Reptiles

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you're moving or simply giving your pet a new home, transporting a reptile can be a risky operation. Reptiles are cold-blooded, meaning that their body temperatures are dependent on their external surroundings, so getting too cold can prove harmful or fatal, not to mention the simple stress of moving. If you're set on transporting your reptile, there are a number of precautions and steps you should take before doing so.

Layer the bottom of a plastic container with about half an inch of paper towels to provide a nice cushion.

Poke some air holes with either a knife or a pen into the container's lid. The number of air holes depends on the size of the reptile, but a minimum of three is necessary.

Line a cardboard box with some thick rags. This provides extra cushion for the reptile container.

Place the reptile into the plastic container and then place the container into the cardboard box. Add rags to make sure the container is nice and snug in the cardboard box.

Fill some plastic ziplock baggies with warm water and place them around the plastic container. This provides extra warmth if it is cold outside.

Cut or poke some airholes into the cardboard box with the knife or pen and tape the box up. The reptile is now ready for transport.


There are special heat packs that can be purchased at department stores (usually in the camping/outdoors section) that work as a great alternative to the plastic baggies of warm water. The reptile should be in its box for as short a time as possible so, if possible, set up its new enclosure at its new location prior to transport so you can immediately put the animal into its new home upon arrival. If shipping a reptile, always ship overnight and consult your courier about the individual process of shipping a live animal.


Reptiles are very sensitive to cold, so they should be outside as little as possible if being transported during the winter months; always keep the heater on in your car to keep them warm during the trip. When transporting amphibians, the opposite is true: too much heat can dry them out and kill them. While you don't want it freezing, a good temperature for transporting amphibians should be around 21.1 degrees Celsius, so consider adding a cold pack to the box during those hot summer months when transporting frogs or salamanders.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic container with secure lid
  • Paper towels
  • Knife or pen
  • Plastic ziplock baggie
  • Thick rags
  • Cardboard box
  • Tape
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About the Author

Brenton Shields began writing professionally in 2009. His work includes film reviews that appear for the online magazine Los Angeles Chronicle. He received a Bachelor of Science in social science and history from Radford University.