We have had numerous complaints about an unscrupulous "snakehandler" doing so-called venomous snake handling courses in Melbourne and touting for business elsewhere, including a false claim that they are the only accredited course with Nationwide recognition, that they do not in fact have (and they admit on their own paperwork issued on "completion" of their courses).
This person is of limited experience (he claims 10 years on his website, but in fact has far less) and the course is of dubious value and not recognized by persons and entities including "Snakebusters", other Victorian-based herpetologists and almost all herpetologists and institutions elsewhere. We and others do not refer work to persons who have completed such courses on the basis that it's our view that the teacher fails to properly train people and teaches people handling methods that are both dangerous to the person and likewise for the snake.
For example the teacher promotes use of metal tongs sometimes sold as "Pillstrom Tongs", but known within herpetology as "back breakers". These are not suitable for attempting to restrain moving snakes and have the added hazard of often breaking the snake's ribs and backbone. We have seen snakes caught with these tongs (or imitations) that have been fatally injured. Persons using these tongs have stated that they prefer to break the snake's back rather than get bitten, but besides the fact that the argument is questionable, the tongs themselves are cumbersome and actually increase the bite risk for the person using them to restrain a snake.
We've also been advised that the only "venomous" snake that particular course's participants are allowed to handle is the relatively innocuous and only mildly venomous back-fanged Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis) which as a colubrid (not native to Victoria) is also not related to any venomous species from Victoria (family elapidae - which includes all the deadly ones with fangs at the front of the mouth) and hence gives the course participants no effective preparation for handling venomous snakes in the state of Victoria or for that matter pretty much anywhere else in Australia, due to the fact that most snakes in this country are elapids.
A poor quality 28 page leaflet (complete with blurred photos on the cover and throughout) handed to persons doing the same course is replete with inaccurate and improperly referenced statements and frankly we do not regard it as being worth to paper it is written on.
Purchase of a $70 business name such as "Snake handler" (bought by Sean McCarthy in 2005), "Black Snake Productions" (bought by Michael Alexander in 2006) or "Educational Reptile Displays" (bought by (Queesnlander) John Lucas in 2006) does not in our view grant the new owner the right to erect a website making false and exaggerated claims of experience with reptiles, claiming decades of experience that simply does not exist, or falsely claiming to be the only government sanctioned and accredited course, when put simply, they are not! In our view, the Victorian government has been negligent in granting such persons permission to teach the handling of venomous reptiles and in doing so, have put unsuspecting members of the public at risk, either through people who may be taught incorrectly by them, or alternatively the persons who contract them to find and catch snakes and more often then not are "ripped off" when the novice taught by a novice is unable to find the reptile after it's fled.
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