In a Nutshell
Imagine an entire island composed of your worst fears, a place where vipers lurk in every bush and the ground writhes with the bodies of reptiles. Welcome to Snake Island, Brazil’s cure for your peaceful sleep.
The Whole Bushel
Off the coast of Sao Paulo sits an island where civilians are forbidden to tread. And for good reason—the entire island is flooded with snakes. Not just any snakes, either—Ilha de Queimada Grande is home to the golden lancehead, one of the meanest, deadliest snakes in the whole of creation.
Since no one has ever officially documented being bitten by a golden lancehead, we don’t know for sure what effect their venom has. However, a bite from a plain, boring, regular lancehead will result in nausea, vomiting, blood blisters, intestinal failure, brain hemorrhage, and expulsion of blood from nearly every orifice. By comparison, the golden lancehead’s bite is thought to be almost five times as powerful. And there are the stories as well—the “unofficial” records of people who strayed onto the island, only to suffer agonizing death.
One report claims that a fisherman was found in his boat, floating alongside the island’s beach. He’d been bitten so many times he’d literally sweated his insides out, leaving his boat awash with blood. Another (certainly apocryphal) tale tells of a family who lived in the island’s lighthouse, who woke up one night to find snakes pouring in the windows.
Regardless of their truth, the stories do highlight one fact: the sheer number of snakes on Ilha de Queimada Grande. By some accounts there are as many as five golden lanceheads per square meter. Since the entire island measures some 430,000 square meters (515,000 square yards), that comes to a rough total of . . . more deadly snakes than we can bear to think about.