Ilha de Queimada Grande – Brazil’s Scary Snake Island

An aerial view of the Brazilian island of Ilha de Queimada Grande, you would agree, looks breathtaking. It’s probably a place where you would love to spend an exotic vacation. But this is an excellent example that looks can be very deceiving. If you were to set foot on the island, you would always be no more than 3 feet away from your death. Because for every square meter of land on the island, there is a very deadly, very poisonous snake.

Ilha de Queimada Grande is located about 90 miles off the shore of Brazil. The island is, not surprisingly, devoid of any kind of human presence. The Brazilian Navy has forbidden people from visiting the island, except for a few scientists who need special approval. The reason – the presence of highly dangerous Golden Lancehead snakes. The lanceheads that occupy the island of Ilha de Queimada Grande can grow anywhere between half a meter to 2 meters long. The venom these snakes inject is so powerful that it can kill two men at once. This venom is fast-acting too, since it simply melts the flesh surrounding the bite. The scaly creatures breed all year round, producing 50 babies each time. With no enemies, the snakes have been able to take over the island and populate it quite freely. They survive mainly on migratory birds that use the island as a resting point.

Of course, where there are predators, so must there be local legends. There are two, in fact, associated with Ilha de Queimada Grande. According to one story, a lone fisherman once wandered onto the island unknowingly, to pick a few bananas. He was promptly bitten, but managed to return to his boat. However, the fast-acting venom did its bit and he was found dead a few days later on his drifting boat, in a large pool of blood.

The second legend tells of the gory death of the island’s last lighthouse operator and his family. It is said that one night, several snakes entered through the window and attacked the man, his wife and their three children. They tried to reach their boat in order to escape, but the snakes hanging from the branches injected them with so much venom that they died before reaching the shore . I do wonder how they managed to survive there for as long as they did.


via Atlas Obscura