You'll learn:

  • To distinguish the difference between Pit-Vipers and Elapids

  • Snake behavior, so you can predict when and when they will be active

  • Venomous snake safety and first aid

  • Troubleshooting common scenarios for Animal Control Officers

  • Scenarios in which it is best to NOT handle a venomous snake

  • Relocation BMP's

  • The proper venomous snake handling tools to keep you safe

  • Our safe handling standard

  • Take Home: Downloadable Venomous Snake Safety Manual

Be Prepared

Snakebite envenoming can be controlled through preventative measures.

In the U.S. approximately 7-8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes (CDC) each year. While deaths are rare, lasting injuries are more common such as amputation or permanent disabilities. Be prepared if you encounter a venomous snake. This course curriculum was developed by venomous snake safety experts and biologists. We have experience in zoos and with venomous snake research.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Welcome to the course!

  • 2


    • Objectives

    • Venomous Snake Identification

    • U.S. Venomous Snakes Identification

    • Vipers

    • Vipers: Rattlesnakes

    • Vipers: Copperheads

    • Vipers: Cottonmouths

    • Elapids

    • Elapids: Coralsnakes

    • Remember!

    • Test your learning

  • 3

    Natural History

    • Objectives

    • Natural History of U.S. Venomous Snakes

    • Anatomy

    • Characteristics of Venom

    • Summary

    • Test your learning

  • 4

    Safety and First Aid

    • Objectives

    • Practice Safety

    • CDC Snake Bite First Aid

    • Scenarios

    • Recommendations for the workplace

    • 10 Essential Snake Safety Tips!

    • Test your learning

  • 5

    Introduction to Handling

    • Objectives

    • When and Why to Handle a Venomous Snake

    • Equipment and Containment

    • Handling Guidelines

    • Introduction to Handling

    • Release Considerations

    • Test your learning

  • 6

    Relocation vs Translocation

    • Overview

    • Release Considerations

    • What science says (so far)

    • The Terms

    • Permits

    • Maintaining Safety

  • 7

    Next steps

    • Next Steps

    • Course Assessment

    • Human Dimensions Survey (after the course) + Feedback

    • Congrats! Here's what's next...

    • More resources for you


Venomous Snake Expert and Biologist

Joe Ehrenberger

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Teaching from Virginia Tech and his Master’s degree in Ecology from Indiana State University Venomous Snake Handling Experience:​ Joe was a Senior Keeper at Indianapolis Zoo, an AZA-accredited institution. As a Senior Zookeeper he worked with a wide variety of venomous (e.g. adders, cobras and relatives, rattlesnakes, and a variety of arboreal vipers and rear-fanged species) and nonvenomous snake species from around the world. His experience also includes husbandry of arboreal pit vipers and rattlesnakes at Indiana State University. He has also conducted research on Prairie Rattlesnakes their natural habitats. This research included tracking, PIT-tagging to determine hibernacula and provide management recommendations to agencies. In recent years, Joe traveled to Central and South America working with native herpetofauna, including venomous species like Bushmasters, Fer de Lance, Neotropical rattlesnakes, and Coral snakes. He is also experienced with Gila monsters and Mexican beaded lizards, both of which are venomous lizards. He provides snake safety training to agencies and industry staff.

Wildlife Biologist

Kelly Triece

Kelly Triece is an experienced field wildlife ecologist and environmental educator. Kelly has years of experience in habitat restoration, reptile, amphibian and avian research and public outreach and education. Kelly received a B.A. in Biological Sciences from University of Delaware and a M.S. in Ecology and Evolution from Montclair State University where her research focused on identifying and restoring critical habitat linkages in New Jersey. She currently works at Adaptation and teaches Biology at her local community college.


5 star rating

Simple, Important, Well-Formated

Emily MacArthur

This course made me feel very confident and ready to identify venomous snakes, and how to react if I come across one. I feel prepared to take the in-person c...

Read More

This course made me feel very confident and ready to identify venomous snakes, and how to react if I come across one. I feel prepared to take the in-person course. They did an excellent job of stressing responsibility, a cool head, and respect for the animal while mitigating fear.

Read Less
5 star rating

Excellent course

Jessica Ransier

Very thorough introductory material for wildlife/ herp professionals!

Very thorough introductory material for wildlife/ herp professionals!

Read Less

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