Venomous Reptile Ecology Awareness & Safe Handling Training

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September 21, 2018
1:00-4:00 pm
Merriam-Powell Research Station, Flagstaff, Arizona
(on the grounds of the Arboretum at Flagstaff)

Join Dr. Erika Nowak, venomous reptile researcher, for an in-depth look at venomous reptile behavior, ecology, and hands-on practice handling live snakes!

Program overview: Dr. Nowak will conduct an ~ 1.5 hour interactive presentation using a Powerpoint presentation, handouts, and visual aids (e.g. transmitters, PIT tags, preserved specimens, live snakes) to explain common Arizona venomous reptile identification, ecology, and behavior. She will also discuss appropriate responses when venomous reptiles are found in places where they are not welcomed by humans, how to prevent bites, and care for envenomation victims. This will be followed by a ~ 1 hour demonstration and class participation in supervised handling of non-venomous and venomous snakes, using snake-safe tongs and snake-proof holding containers. The setting for the training is Northern Arizona University’s Merriam-Powell Research Station (Merriam-Powell Research Station), located next to the Arboretum at Flagstaff.

Class Size and Cost: For snake safety, class size is limited to 20 participants. The cost for this training, put on by Erika M. Nowak Herpetological Consulting, is $75/person. Checks can be made out to Erika M. Nowak. Ten percent of class fees will be donated to Habitat Harmony, Inc. (habitat to support their important conservation work.

Contact Dr. Nowak at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve your spot. See more about Dr. Nowak’s background and her research with snakes here: NAU News: In it for the Animals

Intended Audience and Justification: This training is aimed at resource managers, park rangers, wildlife managers, law enforcement personnel, field biologists, and others who may be called on to remove a venomous reptile from a dangerous situation. Perhaps over half of the envenomations in the US occur as a result of improper handling, partly as a result of misunderstanding about normal rattlesnake behavior, and partly as a result of improper handling techniques. By discussing data gleaned from field research on wild venomous reptiles and dispelling popular myths before handling training occurs, Dr. Nowak hopes to help participants increase their appreciation for these enigmatic creatures, and begin to conquer fears they may have about venomous reptiles, which in turn will lead to safer handling practices. Take-home handouts will reinforce training concepts, and to provide additional resources for living safely with venomous reptiles. This presentation is based on Dr. Nowak’s 24 years of radio-telemetric and mark-recapture field research on rattlesnakes and gila monsters, conducted primarily in national parks and monuments, with insights from her colleagues.

* Please note that this is not a Habitat Harmony event.
Photo copyright Janet Lynn


Prairie Dog Life

Click on the burrow images to find out more.

Nursing Chamber

A mother keeps her young pups safe while the other Prairie Dogs investigate the snake.

Entering the Burrow

A prairie dog hears an emergency cry of "snake" and goes to investigate.

Listening chamber

A prairie dog sits listening just beneath the surface of the ground.

The Rattlesnake

The rattlesnake found a prairie dog burrow to sleep in but has been discovered by the prairie dogs.

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