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!
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), carry full liability insurance, and are bonded for bodily injury. Certification in these courses does not substitute the training required by FWC or other wildlife agencies to achieve a venomous permit, but is meant to provide supplementary training to field professionals and those looking to expand their knowledge about venomous reptiles.
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 course content sufficiently. 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.
After students complete the Level 2 Course, they should feel comfortable handling venomous reptiles in a field environment. Our students go onto to do biological research, work in zoos, and maintain a safe handling record. We are proud to set the standards in safe and responsible venomous reptile handling and restraint.
Because Level 2 requires more one on one time with instructors and hands on training with venomous reptiles, class sizes are limited to 12 students. Level 2 is generally held once quarterly.
Private courses are available for a class size of up to 10, or if a group covers the tuition of a class of the same size. Contact us for more information.
Venomous Snakes in Captivity
Our team is excited to announce a new series of training courses focused on learning the safe techniques of working with venomous reptiles in captivity! This three part series is designed to teach you the tenants of working with venomous reptiles in captivity, understanding captive husbandry and care, learning about common species kept in captivity, and preparing you to work with venomous snakes professionally.