Off the shore of Brazil lies an island so frighteningly dangerous that it’s not only uninhabited, but is illegal to visit unless you were to somehow get special permission from the Brazilian Navy. So, if you’re making a to-do list for things to do while at Carnival, save yourself the planning. Although the island is only 93 miles away from São Paulo, it’s never been developed nor are there any permanent residents except for the migratory birds that stop off to rest during flight, oh and there’s also the snakes.
Lots and lots of snakes to be specific inhabit the island; the migrants birds are their main prey. The island happens to be the home of the Golden Lancehead a unique species of pit viper, which is quite deadly. These creatures grow to about 18″ in length and possess a venom so strong that it actually melts the flesh around the bite point. There are exaggerated stories about the number of snakes on the island bring as high as 1 to 5 snakes per square yard. Real estimates are between 2,000 and 4,000 of these deadly creatures.
The golden lancehead has no natural predator on the island. Through its evolution, these snakes have learned to hunt birds, climbing high in the treetops and striking with a lethality that’s almost instantaneous for animals. Humans have about a 7% chance of death from a bite, but could suffer kidney failure, intestinal bleeding, hemorrhaging of the brain, or muscle necrosis from the venom.
The outright danger of these snakes is like a magnet to some collectors who will pay up to $30,000 for a healthy specimen. Smugglers sneak onto snake island and risk life and limb to trap the snakes for resale. The Golden Lancehead is an critically endangered species and protected.