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Snake Island, the Most Dangerous Island in the World

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Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.

The venom of the Golden Lancehead, one of the most venomous vipers in the world is so strong that a human bitten by it can be dead within an hour.

The venom of the Golden Lancehead, one of the most venomous vipers in the world is so strong that a human bitten by it can be dead within an hour.

The Land of Snakes

Is there anything in this world that is so dangerous that it can melt human flesh?

There is. The venom of the Golden Lancehead, one of the most venomous vipers in the world is so strong that a human bitten by it can be dead within an hour.

Scary? isn’t it?

Now imagine a lush green beautiful island about 430,000 square meters. There are huge luxurious fruit trees, streams teeming with fish, and colorful birds twittering from branches. And the best part of all, it is devoid of any human being. I am sure you would love to spend your vacation on such a beautiful island in the lap of nature.

But hold on !! there is a catch. There is one very venomous snake slithering every square meter of the island and that snake is the golden lancehead. So basically, the island is highly infested with at least 2,000 and 4,000 golden lancehead vipers. And that is certainly not a pleasant thought to visualize.

Welcome to the Ilha de Queimada Grande or snake island, an island about 90 kilometers off the coast of Brazil that has so many snakes that humans are forbidden to go there. In fact, it is so dangerous to set foot there that Brazil has made it illegal for anyone to go there.

And the last time a hapless fisherman strayed on the island, he was found four days later, dead in a pool of blood, with snake bites all over his body.

Snake Island, the Brazilian Island Where Humans Are Forbidden

Snake Island, the Brazilian Island Where Humans Are Forbidden

Snake Island, the Brazilian Island Where Humans Are Forbidden

The topography of the island is interesting with dense green tropical foliage punctuated intermittently with bare rocks and grass as a result of a fire that ravaged the island in the 1900s.In fact, the phrase “Queimada” (which means “to burn”) comes from Portuguese and refers to the destruction that took place.

In fact, the island also had its own lighthouse with a keeper to maintain it in the 1900s. According to legends the last one along with his family was killed by snakes that got into his home through the open windows.

After that, the island remained uninhabited although the Brazilian navy does make an annual stop on the island for maintenance of the lighthouse, which has been automated since then.

Another local legend claims that the snakes in huge numbers were deliberately set on the island by bloodthirsty pirates who had buried their ill-gotten treasure in various locations within it.

Although the logic does not match here as the same snakes would also prevent the pirates from retrieving their treasure, should they choose to come back. In any case, the island became a sort of a mysterious place that almost every Brazilian knows about but would never dream of going.

And the reason as to how snakes became abundant boils down to a more mundane reason of evolutionary history. About 11,000 years ago, the water levels rose enough to surround the area, causing it to become an island.

As the land was isolated from the mainland, the inhabitants adapted themselves to survive the changed circumstances. There were no predators left on the island, so the snakes flourished happily without facing any competition.

And the isolation also made them adopt an unusual diet of birds and other creatures, unlike normal snakes who ate only ground animals. Thus, they evolved to have incredibly potent and efficient venom, three to five times stronger than any mainland snake, capable of not only killing most prey but also melting human flesh almost instantly.

In fact, the bite of a golden lancehead is so nasty that it not only melts down flesh and tissue, but also carries the potency to cause brain hemorrhages, kidney failure, and intestinal bleeding.

A person bitten has a maximum of one hour to survive and with Ilha da Queimada Grande being 90 kilometers from the Brazilian coast, it would take a really fast boat to get to the hospital on time and then survive to tell the tale.

The Snakes Are Endangered Now

The Snakes Are Endangered Now

The Snakes Are Endangered Now

The sad part is even the dangerous golden lanceheads are not safe from the even more dangerous man.

According to scientists, the snake's venom has shown great promise in treating heart disease, circulation, and blood clots. The venom has also shown potential as an anti-cancer drug. The extra potency of the venom can be a very valuable ingredient for the pharmaceutical industry.

And because of this, there is a huge black-market demand for golden lanceheads by scientists, wildlife smugglers, and animal collectors. The smugglers visit the island illegally, trap these snakes and sell them through illegal channels. It is estimated that a single golden lancehead can go for anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000.

The population of snakes on the Ilha da Queimada Grande has also reduced by nearly 50 percent in the last 15 years. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed them as 'critically endangered' on their nature's red list.

The hunters have become the hunted now and unless we take strong steps to prevent this mindless killing, we would soon end up losing yet another unique piece of biodiversity from the face of the earth.

Interesting Trivia About Snakes

There is no doubt that snakes have fascinated and frightened mankind in equal measure since time immemorial. Here are some interesting trivia about snakes that has left mankind in awe of these reptilian slithery creatures over the centuries.

  • Snakes first appeared around 98 million years ago.
  • Snakes exist everywhere except in Ireland, Iceland and the North and South Poles.
  • The fear of snakes is called ophiophobia.
  • Snakes are polyphyodonts – they continuously replace their teeth throughout their lives
  • The heaviest snake in the world is the anaconda. It weighs upwards of 270 kg and can grow up to 30 feet long.
  • A dead snake can also bite. The decapitated head of a snake can bite even hours after death.
  • The black Mamba is the most poisonous snake in the world.
  • Snakes don’t have external ears, but they carry the sounds through their bones, skin and muscles through vibrations.
  • The mongoose is one of those rare animals that is immune to a snake’s poison.
  • Snakes can fly. There are at least 5 species of flying snakes that can fly up to 330 feet.

Sources

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Comments

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 11, 2021:

Thanks Flourish for your comments

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 11, 2021:

This island is my nightmare but I feel badly that the snakes are being exploited. I hope those who are doing them ill are bitten.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks Gyanendra for your comments

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on May 10, 2021:

Hi! Ravi,

You've taken my imagination to the world where I had never heard before through your fascinating article on lancehead and its venom.

Meanwhile making me learn more and more to expand my mental horizon and broaden knowledge about the earth we live in.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks Linda for your comments

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 10, 2021:

The island sounds interesting, but I would never want to visit it! I’m sorry that the snake is critically endangered, though. It sounds like an interesting species, even though it’s dangerous.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks Tobe

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks for the comments Ek Jadoon.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on May 10, 2021:

I feel sorry for the fishermen. I don't like snakes. I don't even want to think about them. But your article was so interesting and well-written, Ravi. Thanks for sharing with us.

Peace Tobe Dike from Delta State, Nigeria. on May 10, 2021:

Informative...thanks for sharing

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks Iqra for your comments

Iqra from East County on May 10, 2021:

This Island is so scary. But the information you shared is very interesting and excellent. Some days ago I watch a video on youtube about this dangerous island.

Thanks, ravi, and keep it up.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks for your comments Peggy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 10, 2021:

In no way would I ever desire to go to that island! Even though garden snakes are good, I would rather never see a snake in our garden or anywhere nearby. I never knew that some snakes fly! That is a frightening thought! If the Venum from this particular snake could be used to treat diseases like cancer, I can understand why scientists would wish to study it. Still, it would be a shame to lose this entire species because of that.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks John for your comments

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on May 10, 2021:

What an intriguing article. I always wanted to be a lighthouse keeper...but at Snake Island...no way!

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks for your comments

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 10, 2021:

They wouldn't have to forbid me going there. There is no way I would visit that island. NO WAY! Fascinating read, as always.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Thanks Chitangada for your kind comments.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 10, 2021:

Excellent information about the snake island. I haven’t read about this earlier, and found the information really thrilling and frightful. It’s good that nobody is allowed to go there.

Thank you for sharing another interesting article.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on May 10, 2021:

Ilha de Queimada Grande, an island in Brazil has so many snakes that humans are forbidden to go there. In fact, it is so dangerous to set foot there that Brazil has made it illegal for anyone to go there.

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