Training Courses

Hands "off" training courses that set the standard for safely working with venomous reptiles.

Our venomous training courses are designed to teach students how to safely work with venomous reptiles, understand snakebite management and venom toxinology, and be an asset to their communities!

Teaching Philosophy

Our staff strives to provide professional courses that encourage a safety culture. One of the first questions many people ask is "have you ever been bit"? Here at the TRC, we are proud to say that no staff member or student has ever been envenomated, largely due to the strong safety protocols and culture we have built within our organization.

Our training programs set the standard for safely working working with venomous reptiles. The curriculum designed by our expert team of instructors has been fine tuned for years, with new classes becoming available all over the United States, with new organizations and companies teaching our Level 1 and 2 coursework. 

Our training courses are for anyone over 18 that is interested in expanding their knowledge and skillset to safely work with venomous reptiles. Students range from homeowners with snakes in their backyard, military personnel, zoo professionals, researchers, students, and government employees. If you think you may have a situation that involves potentially encountering snakes, whether venomous or non-venomous, we recommend you sign up for a course today!

The Rattlesnake Conservancy is permitted to own and handle venomous reptiles by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and multiple states where we host training courses. We carry full liability insurance, and are bonded for bodily injury. Certification in these courses does not substitute the training or permitting requirements by FWC or other state wildlife agencies, but is meant to provide supplementary training to field professionals and those looking to expand their knowledge about venomous reptiles.

Course Locations


Introduction to Venomous Handling

This course is tailored to help anyone who is concerned about snakes in or around your home. Whether you are knowledgeable about native snakes or have never seen one in person, this course provides safe and useful information to help out homeowners to safely relocate snakes! This course is one day and is taught on-site at various locations across the southeast and southwest. We have hosted our other courses at military installations, nature centers, and conservation facilities. Some general information about the course:

  • Hands on individual training, guided by one of our professional instructors.

  • Handling methods for non-venomous and venomous snakes.

  • Tools and equipment that can be used

  • Methods of relocation

This course consists of 1 full day of training with expert instructors Derek Dykstra and Tiffany Bright. The day consists of a lecture and presentation, where students learn about native venomous snakes and harmless snakes in their region, proper handling equipment, and ethical relocation practices.


The second half of the day, students get the opportunity to practice the handling techniques learned earlier in the day. Hands on training will begin with various nonvenomous snakes covering how to move them with a snake hook. Students will then be given the opportunity to get one on one training with a venomous snake.

This course is applicable for novices and individuals with limited to no experience with snakes, venomous and nonvenomous alike. 


Level 1 Venomous Handling Course

The Rattlesnake Conservancy sets the standard for safety, husbandry, and protocol for working with venomous reptiles. Our Venomous Handling Training Course is the leading venomous training program in the United States, our curriculum is taught by multiple organizations, and more than 350 students have gone through this course.


If you are a land manager, environmental consultant, first responder, zoo professional, herpetology enthusiast, photographer, or private citizen looking to learn how to safely handle and relocate venomous reptiles, this course is for you! This course is two days and is taught on-site at various locations across the U.S. We have hosted our course at military installations, nature centers, and conservation facilities. Topics covered in the course include:

  • Hands on individual training, guided by one of our professional instructors. For information about instructors, go to Our Staff.

  • Handling methods for non-venomous and venomous snakes.

  • Learn about the life history, toxinology, and ecology of native venomous reptiles.

  • Emergency field care for envenomation

  • Methods of relocation

Private courses are available for a class size of 10-15, or if a group covers the tuition of a class of the same size. Contact us for more information.

This course consists of 2-days of intense training with expert instructors from out team. The first day of training involves 6 hours of classroom work, where students learn about venom toxinology, native venomous snakes in their region, snake bite management, captive venomous reptiles, and disease monitoring and management.


On day 2, students get up bright and early to take a written test on the information they learned the day before and begin hands on training with venomous reptiles. Students learn about the various type of handling equipment available to safely work with venomous reptiles, how to spot venomous reptiles in the wild, and handle multiple species and sizes of venomous snakes. Routinely, students will work with cottonmouths (Agkistrodon c. piscivorus), canebrake rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus), copperheads (Agkistrodon c. contortrix), and eastern diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamanteus).

This course is applicable for novices and individuals with entry level experience, or may be taken by advanced individuals as a refresher on information learned.


Level 2 Venomous Handling Course

The Level 2 Course is for students wanting to take the next step in advancing their hands on skills with venomous snakes! Level 1 is a prerequisite for this course. We no longer offer Level 1 and 2 courses concurrently due to the intense level of information and we believe that students do not have sufficient time to digest cou