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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 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 and 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

Training Roadmap

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Course Locations

The Rattlesnake Conservancy's flagship course sets the standard for safety, husbandry, and protocol for working with venomous reptiles. Our Venomous Handling Training Courses are the leading venomous training program in the United States, are taught by multiple organizations U.S. wide, and more than 2,000 students have attended these course.

The Level 1 Venomous Handling Course sets the foundations for future training programs, depending on your interest or career aspirations. Level 1 is the pre-requisite course to enter either the Field Herping & Research Track or the Venomous Snakes in Captivity Track.

 

 Topics covered in the course include:

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

  • 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

  • Disease transmission and pathology

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This course consists of 2-days of comprehensive training with expert instructors from our 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 have the opportunity to safely handle with both venomous and non-venomous species. 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).

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Leve 1 Foundations
Field and Research Techniques
Venomous Snakes in Captivity

Working with venomous reptiles safely requires frequent practice to hone your skills and stay on top of the most recent science regarding snakebite. To help previous students who have taken our Level 1 and/or our Level 2 courses maintain their skillsets, we are now offering a 1-day workshop that focuses on current trends in snakebite management and more hands on time working with venomous snakes!

Our team of expert instructors will spend one-on-one time with students to assure they feel safe and are maintaining their skillset working with venomous snakes of their area!

Field Herping &
Research Track

Our team is excited to expand our training opportunities to provide hands on experience with field herping and research techniques related to working with venomous reptiles. This three part series of courses will equip students with the skills needed to safely work with venomous reptiles in a field or research setting, learn how to safely restrain venomous snakes, collect biological data, and eventually expand into actual field work with our team here at The Rattlesnake Conservancy.

Level 2R introduces students to field techniques and forms the foundations of more advanced techniques they will learn in Level 3R and 4R. The Level 1 Course is a prerequisite for this training track.

Students that have previously taken Level 1 & 2 will not have to retake Level 2R and can proceed directly to Level 3R.

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The Level 2R 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 recommend leaving several months after taking the Level 1 Venomous Handling Course to allow you to gain more knowledge and handling experience prior to taking Level 2.

Information covered in this course includes in depth information on venom toxinology, hands on practical experience with venomous reptiles, safe handling restraint, and biological sampling.

Day one is a full day, with the first half of the day consisting of classroom work and refreshing information covered in Level 1. After the classroom portion, instructors allow students to refresh their handling skills using snake hooks prior to moving on to advanced techniques, such as tubing snakes. The second day is exclusively dedicated to handling, restraint, research techniques, and field work.

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This course is currently in development and is expected to be offered in 2025.

Sign up to be the first to know here!

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This course is currently in development and is expected to be offered in 2025.

Sign up to be the first to know here!

Venomous Snakes in Captivity Track

Our team, in partnership with the Reptile Preservation Institute, are excited to offer a new series of courses focused on students interested in learning to work with venomous snakes in captivity. Much like our Research & Field Herping Track, this is a three part series of training courses to give students the foundations in working with venomous snakes safely in a captive setting. 

Our expert team of instructors have a broad range of experience working with venomous reptiles for field research, breeding programs, and zoo animal management. Level 1 is prerequisite for taking of the Venomous Snakes in Captivity Track courses.

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Level 2C - Introduction to Venomous Reptiles in Captivity

$399 per student

This class is taken in partnership with the Reptile Preservation Institute Inc. in Melrose, Florida. The first day of this course is spent in the classroom learning the foundations of venomous reptiles in captivity. The second day of the course involves hand on experience with both native and exotic species of viperids and elapids.

 

Taking this course requires you to have taken Level 1 with The Rattlesnake Conservancy or a partner organization that teaches our curriculum. Topics covered in Level 2C include:

  • Identification and care of common species of venomous reptiles.

  • How to setup and execute bite and disaster protocols.

  • Preparing an escape proof room.

  • Proper safe handling techniques for captivity.

This course takes place over 2 days of intensive training with our team in Jacksonville and with our partners at the Reptile Preservation Institute in Melrose.

Level 3C - Introduction to Venomous Reptiles in Captivity

$399 per student

This class is taken in partnership with the Reptile Preservation Institute Inc. in Melrose, Florida. The first day of this course is spent in the classroom learning the foundations of venomous reptiles in captivity. The second day of the course involves hand on experience with both native and exotic species of viperids and elapids.

 

Taking this course requires you to have taken Level 2C previously. Topics included in the Intermediate course include:

  • Proper quarantine techniques.

  • Husbandry record keeping and venomous reptiles regulations particular to Florida and other states.

  • Identification of minor and major pathogens, diseases, and injuries.

  • Expanded understanding of venom toxinology associated with exotic species of venomous reptiles.

  • Significant hands on experience working with a wide range of venomous reptile species.

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Level 4C - Advanced Venomous Snakes in Captivity

$399 per student

This class is taken in partnership with the Reptile Preservation Institute Inc. in Melrose, Florida. The first day of this course is spent in the classroom learning the foundations of venomous reptiles in captivity. The second day of the course involves hand on experience with both native and exotic species of viperids and elapids.

 

Taking this course requires you to have taken Level 3C previously. Topics included in the Intermediate course include:

  • Dealing with emergencies and snake bite scenario drills.

  • Pre-hospital advanced care of neurotoxic snakebite.

  • Advanced identification of pathogens, diseases, injuries, and determining keeper level medical care versus veterinary treatment requirements.

  • Obtaining antivenom and safety mandate for all venomous keepers, private and professional.

  • Restraint for medical care and assist feeding.

  • Advanced care and husbandry of a broad range of venomous reptiles seen in captivity.

  • Breeding and parturition of venomous reptiles

Instructor Training Course

Instructor Training Course

Our team is always looking to expand our staff of safe and qualified venomous training practitioners! Whether you are interested in teaching as an Instructor part time for our team at locations The Rattlesnake Conservancy hosts courses or you are a partner organization interested in teaching your own courses as a way to generate revenue, this is the best place to start!

Candidates for the Instructor Training Course should have at least 5 years of experience working with venomous reptiles in captivity in the field and preferably have a 4 year degree in the sciences. Our Instructors are held to high standards and students attending courses expect to receive the same quality content wherever they take their training courses.

The Instructor Training Course is held twice annually, generally in Florida and Arizona. Prior to attending the Instructor Training Course, we recommend that candidates attend one or more of our other course offerings to learn teaching methods and ensure content is fully explained in your own courses. The Instructor Training Course takes place over 4 days and involves intense classroom and field instruction to enable Instructors to be able to answer any question a student asks.

Our team has spent the last 4 years building our training courses, honing the key concepts that are important for students to learn and ensuring we teach multiple methods to cater to different learning styles. We spend several days in the classroom, hammering out the academics and at least 1.5 days doing hands on work and ensuring Instructors are comfortable with the techniques we teach and can also teach the techniques themselves.

Contact our team through the website or by email to determine if you are a good candidate to be an Instructor today!

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Private Training

Looking for a private training course for your company? Whether you are looking for general awareness training about venomous snakes of the area, pre-hospital snakebite management, hands on training with venomous snakes of your area, or all of the above, we can tailor a training course for your company!

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

  • Information about snakes of your area.

  • Handling methods for non-venomous and venomous snakes.

  • Tools and equipment used for relocation.

  • Methods of relocation

  • Pre-hospital snakebite management

  • Risk reduction techniques

Contact us today to schedule a private training course!

Private Courses
Disclaimer and Cancellation Policy

Disclaimer

Participation in the venomous handling courses by The Rattlesnake Conservancy Inc. does not guarantee certification by our organization. Students must successfully pass a written and practical test to achieve certification. Completion of the course does not substitute a venomous permit or other permit that may be required to keep venomous or handle reptiles within your state of residency. Before collecting or possessing venomous reptiles, students should contact their state wildlife management agency to ensure no permits are required prior to keeping or handling venomous reptiles.

Cancellation Policy

By registering for a training course sponsored, hosted, or taught by The Rattlesnake Conservancy, you acknowledge and accept the following cancellation policy. Notice of a student's intent to cancel a registration must be made in writing to The Rattlesnake Conservancy by email to info@savethebuzztails.org or by mail and is subject to the following terms:

 

  • Students whose cancellation request is received in excess of 30 days prior to the start date of the training activity will incur a $25.00 administrative fee and remaining costs refunded.

  • Students whose cancellation request is received within 14 to 29 days prior to the start date of the training activity will incur an administration fee equal to 50% of the obligated fee.

  • Students whose cancellation request is received within 13 days prior to the start date or after the commencement of the training activity will incur an administration fee equal to 100% of the obligated fee.

 

One substitute is permitted per registrant for the entire course; daily substitutions are not permitted. The Rattlesnake Conservancy must be notified prior to the first day of the course when a substitution will occur. The Rattlesnake Conservancy will also allow the registration fee to be applied to a different course if the request is made more than 14 days prior to the start date of training. This request must be made in writing, subject to approval by The Rattlesnake Conservancy, and can be used during a period of time not exceeding 12 months from the original course registration.

 

The Rattlesnake Conservancy reserves the right to cancel courses, change course location, change instructors, or change course content. In the event that a course must be canceled or the location of the course changed, registrants will be informed 30 days prior to the start of the course and full tuition refund issued to students.

 

The Rattlesnake Conservancy is not responsible for travel costs incurred. Please do not purchase non-refundable airline tickets more than 30 days before the course. Should a course require cancellation or change in location, The Rattlesnake Conservancy is not responsible for non-refundable airline tickets.

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