Just about 90 miles away from Sao Paolo, you can venture into Ilha da Quaeimada Grande, or as locals call it, Snake Island. Untouched by human developers, the island is home to between 3,000 and 4,000 deadly snakes. The venom of the viper inhabiting the island is so potent it can melt human flesh. Visiting the island is banned by the Brazilian government. However, some tourists have ventured there, and the Brazilian government occasionally allows scientists to explore the island. The Brazil Navy also visits the island every now and then. That being said, let’s take a look at several quick facts of the place that you cannot visit.
- The island was previously a plantation. Or a plantation gone wrong. There were plants to build a banana plantation on the island, but as soon as explorers saw the snakes, everything went south. The name of the island comes from this plan as well, as in Portuguese, the name translates to “slash and burn fire”
- The last human inhabitant left the island in the 1920s. Or more precisely, he was killed. There are rumors that lighthouse keeper lived on the island with his family. But they were all bitten b snakes and died before escaping the island
- In addition to snakes, migratory birds are the only inhabitants on the island. But they stay there just for a short time, as they are mostly slaughtered and eaten by snakes
- The golden Lancehead is the only species on the island. But the species is considered in danger of extinction, since the Snake Island is the only place this viper lives
- Speaking of the golden lancehead, this viper is responsible for 90% of all snakebite related deaths in Brazil
- According to some scientists, there are between one and five snakes per square meter on the island
- The island is a piece of land 4.6 million square feet in size
- The viper living on the island has yellowish brown color. The lancehead can grow up to 28 inches in length, but there are reports of the species reaching 46 inches
- The snake has a mortality rate of 7% without treatment, and goes up to 3% with treatment
- While the viper eats mostly birds, there are reports that the golden lancehead can eat lizards, and that they are even cannibals, as they prey on other snakes as well
- Poachers try to visit the island because of the snakes. The price of the viper goes as high as $30,000 on the black market
- The origins of the island dates back to 11,000 years ago when the sea levels rose and separated the island from the mainland. This left the snakes on the island with limited sources of food. In the beginning, the viper’s venom was not as deadly. Most birds could even escape the island before the venom killed them. So, the snakes evolved and developed extremely potent venom. According to scientists, the lancehead’s venom is five times more potent than other snakes
- Due to limited sources of food, the population of snakes on the island has been reduced by 15% in the past 20 years
- And if you do not die from the venom, a single bite by the golden lancehead can cause necrosis of muscular tissue, brain hemorrhage, kidney failure, and intestinal bleeding
- The population of snakes on the island might go down in the future. The reason is simple, scientists believe there is a medical potential in the venom of the viper. Some scientists suggest the venom could and should be used for pharmaceutical purposes to treat heart disease and blood clots.
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