African Snakebite Institute – Gauteng Snake Courses 

Gauteng has a large diversity of snakes, which are naturally found from the grass and vlei lands around Johannesburg to the bushveld areas around Pretoria. Because the province is largely built up, with both residential and industrial buildings, many of the snakes encountered are either in the house, garden, or in business premises.

There are seven highly venomous species in the province, including the two spitting snakes (the Rinkhals and Mozambique Spitting Cobra). Most snakes try to avoid humans at all costs, and considering the number of people in Gauteng, bites are rare.

A number of dogs are bitten when they attack snakes that wander into their house or yards, and many dogs get spat in the eyes whilst attacking the snake. More info on pets and snakes here.

Being able to safely remove the snake without injuring it is the ideal outcome. The widely used ASI SNAKES app offers a list of local snake removers for your area.

However, if you are feeling adventurous, the African Snakebite Institute offers a range of snake handling courses which allow you to deal with any of the above situations. This also allows you to assist neighbours or others with problem snakes, and you can do your part for snake conservation in southern Africa. The African Snakebite Institute is the leading training provider of snake awareness, first aid for snakebite and venomous snake handling training in Africa. 

We offer training to both corporate clients in various industries across Africa, as well as to members of the public at various training locations throughout South Africa.  We offer the widest variety of public snake courses at various venues throughout South Africa.

These courses range from Snake Awareness, First Aid for Snakebite and Venomous Snake Handling, Snake Handling Bootcamp, Advanced First Aid for Snakebite, all the way through to Advanced Venomous Snake Handling.

The courses are open to members of the public from all walks of life; whether they are avid hikers, hunters, fishermen, campers, birders, trail runners, mountain bikers, property owners who are encountering snakes or just snake enthusiasts wishing to increase their knowledge and experience.

Courses are presented by Johan Marais, one of Africa’s leading herpetologists with over 40 years’ experience and Luke Kemp, a zoology graduate from Rhodes University.

Johan is the most prominent author of snake books in Africa and has written the best-sellers; A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa, Snakes and Snakebite in Southern Africa and First Aid for Snakebite, to mention just a few. Johan is the snake expert for the Tygerberg Poison Centre and the Red Cross Poison Centre as well as advisor to various hospitals and clinics throughout Africa.

Luke is a keen herpetologist and photographer who has been working for the African Snakebite Institute for more than four years and, in addition to presenting courses, develops much of the ASI course material and does the identification of snakes from all over Africa on the ASI App. He is also co-authoring a new a book with Johan on the Reptiles & Amphibians of southern Africa.

Our safe snake handling protocols were developed by Johan Marais while working as curator at some of Africa’s leading snake parks and as a result of visits to various reptile parks and research facilities in the USA, Mexico, U.K., Spain, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, China, Singapore, Thailand, Australia and various African countries.

The ASI courses are FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) endorsed and are accredited by ISZS (the International Society of Zoological Sciences) and recognised by the AFGA (African Field Guides Association) and the NFTGA (National Federation of Tourist Guides & Affiliates).

The Snake Awareness, First Aid for Snakebite and Venomous Snake Handling course is registered with both the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa) and registered health professionals earn 4 CPD points, and SAIOSH (South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) and registered participants receive 2 CPD points. It is also registered with the PCIPC (Pest Control Industry Professional Council) and registered members receive 3 CPD points when completing this course.

Snake Awareness, First Aid for Snakebite and Venomous Snake Handling
Our Snake Awareness, First Aid for Snakebite and Venomous Snake Handling Course is our most popular course. It kicks off with a morning session during which we discuss scorpion sting, spider bite and then covers snake awareness, first aid for snakebite as well as snake behaviour and biology, myths and superstition, identifying snakes and how doctors treat snakebite. Delegates can choose to do the theory session only. During the handling session, delegates are taught safe protocols for catching and releasing venomous snakes using the correct equipment. Delegates do not make physical contact with venomous snakes.

Snake Handling Bootcamp
The next course in the range is our Snake Handling Bootcamp. This is a hands-on day of practical snake handling. Delegates are taken through the basics of catching and releasing venomous snakes and are taught how to tail snakes (catching certain species by the tail and using a hook or snake tong to support the snake), and then spend the rest of the day working their way through several practical snake removal scenarios.

Advanced Snake Handling
Delegates who have completed our Snake Awareness and Snake Handling Bootcamp can move onto our Advanced Snake Handling course. In this course, delegates are taught how to bag, probe, tail and neck venomous snakes. This course is popular with people who intend working with snakes professionally or who intend keeping venomous snakes.

Advanced First Aid for Snakebite
In our Advanced First Aid for Snakebite course we cover snake venoms and their effects, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and C.P.R., pressure immobilisation during which delegates will be taught how to apply the correct pressure and the use of a pocket mask and a bag valve mask. It is a hands-on course with various practical scenarios.

Reptile Photography course
Our reptile photography course covers: Equipment (cameras, lenses, flash, tripods, memory cards), theory (speed, depth of field, ISO) composition (background and focal points) lights and lighting (artificial and available light, flashes, diffusers) macro photography and equipment, Photoshop and Lightroom, archiving images, and tricks of the trade. A practical session follows the theoretical session.

Kids’ Snake Awareness course
Our hugely popular Kids’ Snake Awareness course covers the often asked question “What’s a reptile?” and includes an overview of the common venomous snakes of Gauteng and what to do if a snake is encountered. The rest of the course is very interactive with lots of animals to hold, touch and see.

View our upcoming course dates and details here. 

African Snakebite Institute