Blue Mountains Reptile Awareness

Reptile Courses

Next Course

Neville is holding another 2 day Venomous Husbandry course to be held on Saturday and Sunday 17th and 18th July at 11 Reindeer place, Werrington. Cost is $300 each person, morning and afternoon teas provided and barbecue lunch both days. Numbers will be limited to no more than 10 people so get in fast. Interested people to contact Neville Burns by email or telephone on 0247591832

People wishing to attend must be 18 years of age or over and have at least a license to keep pythons and know the basic needs for captive reptiles. Although primarily a basic venomous husbandry course, the handling skills that will be taught and demonstrated are of marked value to those involved in reptile rescues and relocation. Anyone wishing to attend should phone Neville on 0247591832 or email him on As before, morning and afternoon teas will be provided and a b.b.q. luncheon can be made available on each day for those who want it. The emphasis of this course is safe and responsible elapid husbandry and handling.

Topics covered in the duration of the course include:

- Handling and restraining techniques
- Safe transporting methods
- Tools and accessories essential to the venomous keeper
- Venom and its effects
- First Aid and medical treatment of snakebite
- Safe enclosure and snake room design
- Cleaning and quarantine
- Feeding
- Snake behaviour
- The responsibilities of keeping a venomous snake

Opportunities to gain experience handling venomous snakes under the guidance and supervision of a trainer will be available. This course is designed to give those interested in moving into the venomous snake keeping world a push in the right direction by supplying correct information and emphasizing the risks involved. It is not designed to create experts immediately. We understand that it takes years to develop handling skills and knowledge. However, we can guarantee that this course will provide the perfect basis for those hoping to begin keeping elapids.

For those wishing to travel from interstate, accomodation can be arranged if required.

Currently we have set a maximum of 10 places for the course to ensure each attendee is given enough attention. Due to the interest already shown in this course, these places are filling rapidly!

Upon completion of the course, attendees will be supplied with a certificate and husbandry manual covering all topics discussed over the 2 days.

The expansion of interest in herpetology has brought with it both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, more people are appreciative of reptiles, more are keeping reptiles and the knowledge of these creatures has increased in leaps and bounds. On the negative side, as noted by myself and many experienced long term herpers, there seems to be a growing proliferation of people (not always young) who see handling snakes as something macho and a way of gaining a rather dubious form of notoriety” I handle dangerous snakes”. Some of these people have gone so far as to manufacture fictitious backgrounds that claim that they have had many years of experience when , if truth be known, their personal experience is extremely limited. They do not hesitate to promote themselves as “experts” and as the average member of the public knows little about snakes, they fool many people.

I am not for one moment suggesting that there are not worthwhile snake handling courses being run in this country but unfortunately many of the people who attend these courses emerge after two or three days with the mistaken impression that they are then capable handlers, ready to rescue or remove any large elapid they may be called for. Recently at one of my shows, a gentleman in his late forties approached me after watching me handle a rather lively Eastern Brown Snake and told me that he was with WIRES and had done their basic handling course. He then went on to tell me that if he came up against a snake like the one I had just been working with he would have to walk away as he would not feel confident to handle it. I commended him on his honesty and told him that I do not believe that any handler or trainer can create an experienced elapid handler in a short course. There are far too many examples of people who are issued with a “catch and release” who have an entirely misleading impression that they are “experts” after completing some of these courses. They are minimally experienced , unable to answer many of the publics questions, unable to identify many species they may be called to deal with and are a danger to themselves due to inflated egos!

I know that there are many genuine people in Wires and other organizations {Many are friends of mine) but I am fed up with the wannabe’s and ego trippers who present themselves to the public and the industry as more than they are! Any long term , truly experienced handler of dangerous snakes who doesn’t admit that there are occasions when it has only been luck that allowed them to avoid a bite is NOT BEING HONEST!!1 Anyone involved with venomous snakes who has not got a genuine fascination with and love for these animals is in the WRONG GAME for the WRONG reasons!! I have great respect for many genuine WIRES trainers and course providers and it just saddens me that so many cowboys are emerging from the woodwork.

Having had my say, I want to make it quite clear to anyone who is interested ,that I intend to provide courses beginning next year but no-one will come out of this course as an expert or experienced handler. IT WILL NOT QUALIFY ANYONE FOR A DAMAGE MITIGATION LICENSE, The courses are aimed at people who have a desire to one day keep elapids and have at least a basic knowledge of snakes requirements in captivity but lack the experience to feel comfortable with the responsibility of keeping dangerous venomous species. These people will be willing to realize that no-one can turn out experienced handlers in a short term course! The courses will run over two days (Saturday and Sunday) and will cover cage construction, suitable hide boxes, use of hooks and head restraints, transport of snakes and safe handling techniques etc. Courses will be catered for refreshments and a certificate and manual will be provided for all course attendees.


Thanks for a fantastic weekend. Absolutely LOVED it! Feel much more confident. Well done on a great course.
Matt Dyer

Very informative, huge learning experience. Great confidence builder. Would love to do another course.
Todd Rose

Great way to learn new husbandry and handling techniques.
Tom Whitehouse, Organizer of Reptiles, Walkabout Wildlife Park.

Nev and Tom, By far the best course I’ve ever done. Loved it! Would love to stick around. Good luck Boys.
Dave Cooney

Nev and Tom; your course was fun friendly and full of experience from the both of you. You made me feel comfortable with no pressure which really acknowledged the gentlemen you are. I know I can go home with all the knowledge up my sleeve for the future. Thank you both very much for holding such a great course. P.S. Definitely worth the cost

Hi Neville, The course was fantastic. I thought I just loved Death Adders but now I love them all. Really looking forward to any more courses you may run in the future, esp any field work. See you at the Castle Hill Expo. Thanks to you and Tom for a great weekend.
Fran Grant

Thanks for a great course Nev. Look forward to the advanced one.
Blake Swadling

Thanks for letting me watch. I really appreciate it. I feel more confident in assisting Matt on his rescues. Tom was outstanding!! I feel that he had everyone’s safety as number one priority. An absolute asset. Thank you both so much for the weekend, we had a fantastic time.
Sam Dyer

On behalf of C.C. Wildlife ARC., may I thank you for your professional and courteous training of myself and our members. We as Rescuers/ Carers and releases are now better trained, more competent and confident in capturing and caring for Veno’s-Again we will recommend all our veno members to complete this husbandry course.
Matt Whitehouse, Head Carer-Reptiles, C.C. Wildlife, ARC, Gosford.

Sydney Morning erald Article

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