Adventure lovers and those who wish to explore off-limits destinations and various wildlife species will enjoy visiting several parts of planet Earth. Snake Island or Ilha da Queimada Grande is not one of these destinations. This is because the island located less than 100 miles away from the Brazilian city of São Paulo does not allow people to visit it. Those who want to know about Snake Island in Brazil will learn about the existence of the golden lancehead viper. In fact, this island is home to more than 4,000 lancehead vipers.


While this type of snake is venomous, many people would want to discover this unique island in Brazil if they were permitted to because they will never find anything like Snake Island anywhere else in the world. They will also learn about the history of Snake Island, how all these reptiles came to this region, how they survive, and how one can access this unique island in Brazil.

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How All These Snakes Made It To This Island In Brazil

Many stories have emerged that linked the existence of so many snakes on this island in Brazil, such as pirates dropping the species off there to protect their gold and other tales. However, the truth is that the island became inhabited by so many snakes more than 11,000 years ago. When sea levels rose enough, leading the Ilha da Queimada Grande to detach from mainland Brazil, the snakes living on the island stayed there. Due to the lack of human development on this island, the snake population grew exponentially there.

The species were able to reproduce quickly also because there were no predators on the island. Today, it is estimated that one can find between one and five snakes per square meter on that island. Other sources claim that these numbers are over-exaggerated and that the actual count amounts to only one snake per square meter.

While many people are afraid to visit Snake Island, the government of Brazil manages who enters this place. Primarily, those are scientists who get access to the Ilha da Queimada Grande. Moreover, it’s required that a doctor accompanies the visitors in case the snakes bite anyone during the trip on the island.

The scientists mainly visit Snake Island to conduct some research on venoms since the latter can have many beneficial effects on blood circulation, blood clots, heart disease, and more. After all, snake venoms have been used for a long time in various medications.

The Endangered Species Of Brazil’s Snake Island

The lancehead viper is now classified as a critically endangered species due to habitat destruction that has been going on for so long on Snake Island. Many people believed that it was better to get rid of the snakes so that humans could visit the island and make it more usable. As a result, many fires were deliberately started to kill the snake population and use the land for agriculture. Moreover, the Brazilian Navy removed vegetation from Snake Island to maintain the lighthouse there, which resulted in habitat destruction for the snakes. Also, the scientists were hurting the snakes because they conducted over-harvesting in the area.

Snake Island is a small spot, and this is the only place where lancehead vipers can grow in the wild. This means that a minimal population of snakes can thrive. As a result, the snakes have become inbred, which led to many being born with female and male parts at the same time. This prevented them from reproducing because they were sterile.

While the Brazilian government is the only entity that provides access to Snake Island, this region sees wildlife smugglers illegally entering the island to trap lancehead vipers and sell them unlawfully.

  • Cost: Golden lancehead vipers can sell for a whopping price that ranges from $10,000 to $30,000.

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Here’s What To Know About The Flora And Fauna Of Snake Island

Snake Island is known for its 62-acre thick rainforest. It also features deforested grassy land and rocks. Snake Island stretches over approximately 110 acres of land. Because there are no predators on Snake Island, the golden lancehead vipers could grow and reproduce. Moreover, the snakes prey on migratory birds for survival since there is also a lack of prey on the island to serve as food for the snakes. The migratory birds and the fast-acting venom of the snakes have made it easier to provide the latter with their food requirements and allow them to survive on the island.

Unfortunately, adventurers are forbidden by the Brazilian government to visit Snake Island to protect both the endangered snakes and the humans. However, people who want to witness golden lancehead vipers in Brazil safely and legally can do so in the Serpentarium at Butantã Institute in São Paulo. Other places include the São Paolo zoo and Sorocaba’s Zoológico Municipal Quinzinho de Barros.

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