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), 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.

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 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. 

Our expert team of instructors have a broad range of experience working with venomous reptiles for field research, breeding programs, and zoo animal management. Students with significant experience may receive a waiver to be entered into the Level 3 course without having taken Level 1 and 2 by submitting a course experience waiver.

Level 3 - Introduction to Venomous Reptiles in Captivity

$349 per student

Taking this course requires you to have taken Level 1 and 2 with The Rattlesnake Conservancy or a partner organization that teaches our curriculum. Topics covered in Level 3 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 at our headquarters in Jacksonville, FL. 

Level 4 - Intermediate Venomous Reptile Techniques

$449 per student

The Intermediate techniques course is focused on individuals who plan to regularly interact with venomous reptiles in captivity, whether professionally or privately. 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.


Level 5 - Advanced Venomous Reptiles Techniques

$499 per student

The Advanced course taught by our team is the pinnacle of everything you have learned in the previous courses. This course is an intensive 3 day course with hands on experience, task loading, teaching independence, and applying everything you have learned up until this point. This course will require homework and reading assignments prior to the final course. Students will be evaluated based on their skillset and students will only receive a certificate for this course if they pass rigorous testing by The Rattlesnake Conservancy.


 Topics in this course include:

  • Managing escaped venomous reptiles.

  • Dealing with emergencies and snake bite scenario drills.

  • Pre-hospital advanced care of neurotoxic snakebite.

  • Advanced identification of minor and 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


The course finishes with a capstone student presentation of venomous reptile management plan to prepare a venomous snake collection.


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!


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 Training



Participation in the venomous handling courses by the Eastern Diamondback Conservation Foundation, Inc., DBA The Rattlesnake Conservancy, 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 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.