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The Truth About Snake Island Everybody Should Know

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Technology Manager, Poet, History Maniac. Also a prolific writer on varied topics as diverse as relationships, creativity, and technology.

The Truth About Snake Island Everybody Should Know

The Truth About Snake Island Everybody Should Know

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.

The story of Snake Island

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 to.

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 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 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.

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 March 15, 2021:

Thanks, Rosina

Rosina S Khan on March 15, 2021:

An interesting account of venomous snakes in an island of Brazil. They seem pretty dangerous but care should be taken not to make them extinct. I enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing, Ravi.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 14, 2021:

It's my mindset that all killer snakes be eredicate out of the earth. Let the snake hunters alone.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 14, 2021:

Thanks, Devika for your comments

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 14, 2021:

Thanks Liz.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 14, 2021:

Thanks, Flourish. humans still remain the most dangerous animal to date.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 14, 2021:

Hi An interesting and unique hub. You think of many ideas and share with us. I have heard of this island, but not as much as you have enlightened me on here.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 14, 2021:

This is an interesting article. I had not heard of this island before. It sounds like the setting for a snake version of Jurassic Park.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 14, 2021:

I wonder how the birds don't adapt and go somewhere else where these snakes don't exist? Although snakes (and especially highly venomous ones) are not my favorite animal I don't like people harming them and selling them on the black market. I hope the smugglers get their comeuppance (hiss).

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 13, 2021:

Thanks Chitangada

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 13, 2021:

Interesting article!

I admire your ability to write on such unique topics.

Well done and Thank you for sharing.

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