While the US postal service is flooded with Amazon and Zappos packages, mail carriers are know to handle far wilder items than those new socks. From live scorpions to radioactive material, there are many bizarre – and seemingly dangerous – things you can legally send in the mail. While mail systems around the world have their own regulations about exactly what can be sent, there are omissions and loopholes that will allow you to ship those live chicks. Although these do not make the life of mailmen any easier, they do allow businesses and individuals to ship items that are tougher to handle than your phone bill.
Ranging from living creatures to legitimately dangerous products, these entries are all real things that can be sent through the post – even if, at this moment, you can't fully understand why you would want or need to send them. When was the last time you thanked your mail carrier?
A common problem that plagues beekeepers is the difficulty of finding reliable breeders to buy the critters from, which can make acquiring new queen bees or expanding colonies difficult. The easiest way to do it is by buying the bees from a reputable seller and having them sent via postal service. Most public services will allow live bees to be sent in the mail, as long as they are adequately packed. A sender just needs to ensure that the insects have air and a comfortable temperature, along with paying some extra handling fees.
Queen bees, however – special ladies that they are – are subject to an entirely different set of regulations. They're permitted to be sent via air transportation along with up to "eight attendant honey bees" as long as postal personnel are made aware of their precious cargo.
Most people probably hold the reasonable assumption that it's not possible to send radioactive material in the mail. After all, such material is usually tightly controlled and regulated. However, as long as the samples are not classified as dangerous according to a set of legal guidelines, radioactive items can be sent via the Royal Mail in the UK. The only special instructions are that the material should be surrounded with protective cushioning and the return address should be clearly labeled.
When a Reddit user accidentally received an extra package from UPS, the internet learned that it was possible to send military grade drones in the post. The $350,000 piece of equipment was intended to arrive at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, a government agency, but UPS apparently sent it to the wrong address (or at least that's what the government claims). Although the drone was returned to its rightful owner, its mis-delivery is fairly disconcerting, considering its expense and importance.
There's an entire industry built around our ability to send prank items in the mail. One of the more disgusting things that certain websites offer to send to your friends – or enemies – is animal feces. As there are no regulations governing the sending of excrement in the mail, these joke sites can deliver poop samples that include cow, elephant, and gorilla dung. All we can hope is that these sites have the manners to wrap the excrement in plastic so that the aroma doesn't leak out and hinder carriers' abilities to do their job.