Creepy crawlies in your backyard have nothing on the ones slithering on the surface of this uninhabited Brazilian isle. Deadly snakes occupy nearly every bit of space of the Ilha da Queimada Grande in Brazil, aptly dubbed the Snake Island.
According to a report from Atlas Obscura, the island is located off the shore of Brazil, around 93 miles away from São Paulo. Humans stay away from the island for good reason: scientists estimate that every square meter of land on Snake Island has one to five snakes. The serpents survive on Snake Island by feasting on the migratory birds that stop here to rest.
The snakes endemic to the island — known as golden lanceheads (Bothrops insularis) — are not the garden variety kind. A report from Snake Facts say that the average golden lancehead snake is about 28 inches long, but some could grow up to 46 inches.
While there are no recorded bites for golden lanceheads (they’re only found on the uninhabited Snake Island), other lancehead snake species are responsible for more deaths than any other type of snake in North and South America. Their venom has been found to be five times more potent than the venom of their cousin, jararaca. The lancehead’s venom is so strong that it can melt the flesh around the snake’s bite. It’s also the fastest acting venom in the genus.
There are plenty of horrific snake stories warning people of the grisly deaths that have taken place on Snake Island. One of the most popular stories is about a fisherman who unwittingly docks onto the island for bananas, only to be bitten and succumb to death on his boat.
Another tale tells of snakes slithering through a window and attacking the last lighthouse operator of Snake Island, as well as his wife and three kids. They flee to their boat, but the golden lancehead snakes dwelling on the tree branches deliver their fatal bites before they could even escape.
In 2014, VICE editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro and senior producer Jackson Fager took a trip to the island to experience the danger themselves, describing what they saw as the “anti-Galapagos.”
Fierce as they may seem, the golden lanceheads are also in danger themselves. The species are tagged by the IUCN as critically endangered.