Snake Island

Lying just off the coast of Brazil, the island of Ilha da Queimada Grand is populated by a unique and highly venomous species of lancehead viper. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this small island has become known as snake island – an ophidiophobic,s vision of hell, only doughty scientist and crazed adventures dare set foot on its ground.

Snake Island is home to a vast colony of golden lancehead pit viper among the most poisonous snake on the planet. The golden lancehead is only to be found this one particular island, so it is understandably rather protective of its territory. Its venom is about five times as potent as that of its cousin, the fer-de –lance, which is itself responsible for more South American snakebite death than other species.

Gust getting to the island, which covers about 45 hectares, takes considerable determination. It is first necessary to cross a 30-kilometers stretch of choppy water from the coast of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, and there are few local sea captains willing to make the trip. Once at the island, there is no beach to speak of, and access is via a steep, rocky slope covered in hand-mincing barnacles. All of which is somewhat academic, given that the Brazilian Navy expressly forbids civilian from landing there anyway. Only accredited scientists are occasionally given special dispensation to visit.

There are at least 5,000 snakes writhing around the place, with conservative estimates suggesting one for every square meter: they have been taken over a now-defunct lighthouse. Being lighthouse keeper lived there with his family until snakes got into their cottage. As they tried to flee, they were taken out one by one by vipers dangling from the branches of overhanging trees.

Location: Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Sao Paulo State, Brazil.


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