by Sam Jackson

I think it’s safe to say that we’re all familiar with mail. Whether it’s eagerly awaiting a Christmas gift or an Amazon order, or moaning and groaning over a stack of bills, the US Postal Service has been a consistent part of our lives.

Even so, some of the things sent through the USPS may come as quite a shock to those used to receiving little more than letters and laundry.

In fact, it gets pretty weird. The reasons behind the mailing of these items range from the medical to the monetary to the downright mischievous. But the fact remains – our steadfast postal workers have been asked to carry around some really bizarre stuff. So hold on to your butts, folks. Here we go.

Live Baby Chickens

On the surface level this might seem like a pretty cruel practice. However, there are those who say that baby chickens have everything they need to live safely and happily in the mail.

Day-old chicks are full of the nutrient-rich yolk that they eat during the hatching process, and can apparently survive for several days without food or water. Hundreds of thousands of baby chicks are therefore sent through the mail each year.

Let’s just hope that they are shipped through Express Mail, with adequate airholes and many Handle-With-Care stickers attached.

Cremated Human Remains

Now, let’s be clear. You can’t just wrap up a dead person and leave them beside your mailbox. For many moral and sanitary reasons- that just won’t fly. That being said, the cremation process has a purifying effect which removes the possibility of contamination and makes it legal to send cremated human remains through the mail.

This is most often done between family members- sending the ashes of a loved one to a relative who couldn’t make the cross-country trek. In order to do this, one must use priority shipping and properly package the remains. We’re talking a double-boxed package.

After all, one wouldn’t want poor old Uncle Ned to leak out in the mail, would they?


Whoa now, don’t freak out just yet. That one friend of yours can’t just decide they want to make your day extra interesting by mailing you a box full of writhing scorpions. No- it is legal to mail live scorpions only in the event that they are being used for medical research and/or in the production of antivenom. Permits are indeed required.

While this applies to scorpions, many other venomous critters such as spiders and snakes remain banned from the mail. I hope this provides some small comfort to those who find it horrifying to think of all manner of poisonous creatures scuttling around through the mail system.

Animal Excrement

You know that “one friend” we mentioned above? Well, here is where they come into play.

Because there are no regulations pertaining to the mailing of animal feces, there are prank-centric websites who will happily send poop through the mail as a gift to someone of your choosing.

It goes without saying that you should avoid showing this article to that one friend. And in the event that you happen to be that one friend- now you know what to get your friends for their birthdays. You sick, sick individual.

At any rate, these packages need to be quadruple-wrapped and completely airtight. Our resilient postal workers deal with enough crap as it is.


The easiest way for beekeepers to acquire more bees and expand their colonies is to order some bees and have them sent through the mail.

Most reputable bee breeders will send the live bees with all the correct packaging, adequate air and a livable climate. Although the process involves increased handling fees, the bees regularly arrive safe and unscathed by their journey through the mail.

In the event that a beekeeper is purchasing a queen bee, several extra precautions are taken. Like any monarch, the queen requires an entourage of honey bees to accompany her during her journey. These are more valuable insects and are usually air mailed and labeled precious cargo.


Okay. Let me begin by saying that it’s now illegal to send living human beings through the mail. Once upon a time, however, it was perfectly legal to mail children through parcel post as long as they didn’t exceed the 50-pound weight limit.

Oftentimes parents would send their children through the mail because it was cheaper to pay the postage than it was to pay the travel fare. Such was the case with 5-year-old Mary Pierstorff. In 1914 this young girl was mailed from Grangeville to Lewiston, Idaho, with some stamps stuck directly onto her coat. This cheap, disturbing and frankly abusive practice was frowned upon and eventually outlawed. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

To close on a more inspirational note, let us recall the story of escaped Virginia slave Henry “Box” Brown. In 1849, Brown had himself mailed from Virginia to the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society in a box with bread and water. He entered the mail a slave and exited it a free man.

In this instance, the USPS served as an avenue for emancipation.