What appears beautiful and picturesque from above, in case of this small Brazilian island is one of the deadliest places on Earth…
Ilha da Queimada Grande, is a Brazilian island located 35km away from the coast of São Paulo state (closest city – Itanhaém). Although its name means “the Big Burnt Island” (as in the past fishermen tried to occupy the coast by setting fires and chasing the wildlife deep into the jungle), this place is more known as the “Snake Island”.
Why is it called like that? Well, for one thing the density of deadly Golden Lancehead snakes is estimated to be between one and five snakes per square meter. Additionally, Golden Lanceheads grow to well over half a meter long, and are extremely venomous – one bite can kill an adult in about two hours due to general organs’ failure.
As the snakes have dominated island’s fauna kingdom, living everywhere (in the ground, on rocks, in the grass and on the trees), Brazilian Government decided to forbid any visits to the Ilha, except for occasional scientific groups and the Brazilian Navy which maintains a lighthouse on the island.
NOTE: The legend says that the island’s last inhabitants were the lighthouse keeper and his family. One night, snakes entered through the window and attacked the man, his wife and their children. The family tried to escape with their boat, but the snakes hanging from the branches injected them with such amount of venom that they died before reaching the shore.
Even though there are hundreds of thousands of Golden Lancehead snakes on 43-hectare Ilha da Queimada Grande, it is the only place in the World where this unique species of pit viper can be found.
Being concentrated in such a small area, the Golden Lancehead snakes are in serious danger. Low genetic variability of individuals, makes them more susceptible to disease and the occurrence of abnormal features (for example undeveloped male sexual organs were found in some females).