STAY AWAY From This Island!

From its evolutionary history to the gruesome
legends surrounding it, here’s why you should stay away from this island:
Number 7 Ilha da Queimada Grande This island has crystal-clear waters, a lush
rainforest and a mild climate that’s typically between 65 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. From the outside, Ilha da Queimada Grande,
located about 21 miles off the coast of Sao Paolo, Brazil, looks like an ideal holiday
destination. However, upon closer inspection you’ll find
that it’s actually one of the deadliest places on Earth. The islands surface is 4,600,000 square feet
and, by some estimates, there were once over 400,000 snakes. This would amount to a snake for every 10.6
square feet, which is why Ihla da Queimada Grande has appropriately come to be known
as Snake Island. Today, the snake population is believed to
be much lower than previous estimates. Nevertheless, the island is still home to
thousands of highly-venomous pit vipers which are capable of swiftly killing a human. As such, the Brazilian Navy has closed Snake
Island to the public, only allowing access for researchers collecting data. Number 6 History
Despite its reputation as one of the world’s most dangerous places, the island was once
populated. The name ‘Ilha da Queimada Grande’ roughly
translates as ‘Big Burnt Island’. Its origins can be traced to an attempt by
the local population to clear the land by deforestation. They burned off portions of the rainforest
to make room for a banana plantation. A lighthouse was built in 1909 with the purpose
of steering ships away from the island. Once it was converted to being automated,
in the 1980s, the last human inhabitants left the island. In fact, there aren’t any mammals living
on Snake Island at all. One of the most obvious questions is how the
island became inhabited by so many snakes? The main theory is that, about 11,000 years
ago, rising sea levels separated Ihla da Queimada Grande from mainland Brazil. The snake species that remained on the island
evolved differently than the others. Since they’d basically become stranded on
a strip of land, the snakes had no predators at ground level. This allowed them to reproduce at a rapid
rate and spread throughout the island. They also didn’t have much prey, as all
the rodent population had disappeared, so they adapted accordingly. Their main source of food became the migratory
birds which visited the island at certain times of the year. When snakes hunt, they’ll sometimes bite
their prey and allow the venom to kill it before tracking it down and eating it. That being said, for the snakes of Ihla da
Quiemada Grande, tracking their prey wasn’t an option as they could simply fly off. That’s why their venom evolved to become
very powerful. It’s so potent, in fact, that it can melt
human skin almost instantly. Number 5 Golden Lancehead
The main reason why nobody’s allowed on the island is the golden lancehead, a dangerous
pit viper only to be found on Ilha da Queimada Grande. Known by the scientific name Bothrops Insularis,
this snake can grow to lengths of 28 to 46 inches. It draws its common name from the elongated
shape of its head, which is typical of all snakes in the Bothrops genus, and the yellowish-brown
color of its underside. It’s believed that a common ancestor of
Bothrops insluaris and Bothrops jararaca, the golden lancehead’s closest mainland
relative, migrated to the island when the sea levels were low. Evolution would eventually split the snake
into two separate subspecies. The golden lancehead has a longer tail, which
is most likely an adaptation that enables it to maneuver through trees, where it does
most of its hunting. Its diet mainly consists of migratory birds,
and not rodents, like the jararaca’s. Even though the island is home to about 42
bird species, the golden lancehead mostly relies on two a type of flycatcher called
Elaenia chilensis and Troglodytes musculus, also known as the southern house wren. Instead of biting, releasing and then tracking
its prey, the golden lancehead holds the victim in its mouth once it’s envenomated. Its venom is five times stronger than that
of the jararaca and potentially fatal to humans. In 3 per cent of cases death can still occur,
even after the person has received treatment. Golden lancehead venom is the fastest acting
of all Bothrops snakes as it can kill an adult in less than 90 minutes. It has hemotoxic components, which eat away
at flesh, as well as neurotoxic components. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, swelling,
bruising, local pain, blood blisters and severe tissue necrosis. Those bitten can also experience blood in
the urine and vomit, intestinal bleeding, kidney failure and brain hemorrhaging. Number 4 Venom Research
Bothrops insularis’ relatives, also known by the common name ‘lanceheads’ are responsible
for about ninety per cent of all the snake bites in Brazil. Studying the potent venom of the golden lancehead
may help in the treatment of future snake-related bites. There are also other areas in which the snake’s
venom could be useful. Marcelo Duarte is a scientist with the Brazilian
Butantan Institute, which studies the pharmaceutical applications of reptilian venom. He said ‘We’re just scratching this universe
of possibilities of venoms’. He believes golden lancehead venom is scientifically
promising and might help with blood clots, circulation and heart disease. Number 3 Outlawed
A policy put in place by the Brazilian government requires any legally sanctioned visits to
the island to be accompanied by a doctor, in case of run-ins with the local snake population. That doesn’t mean that a permit to visit
the island is available for anyone, provided they bring a doctor with them. The ban put in place by the Brazilian Navy
is meant to protect both the endangered golden lanceheads and those who could be bitten. Special permission is usually granted to researchers
and biologists studying this rare snake species, in the hopes of better understanding the Bothrops
genus, as a whole. The other people who visit the island are
Brazilian navy staff, tasked with maintenance of the island’s automated lighthouse. Number 2 Threats
Most people would regard setting foot on an island where the ground slithers with dangerous
snakes as a nightmare come true. Others, however, see it as opportunity to
make money. Because of the demand from animal collectors
and scientists, golden lanceheads are a prized item on the black market. Wildlife smugglers, known as biopirates, risk
their lives and legal consequences to trespass on the island in order to trap these snakes
and sell them. The price for a golden lancehead reportedly
ranges from $10,000 to $30,000. Biopirates aren’t the only threats these
snakes face. Other factors, such as habitat degradation
and disease have contributed to halving the golden lancehead population, in the past 15
years. Since these snakes are only found on Ilha
da Queimada Grande, their population was affected by whatever transformations the island went
through. This included vegetation removal by the Brazilian
Navy for building and maintaining the lighthouse as well as the intentional fires started by
those who wanted to make room for a banana plantation. There are currently anywhere from 2,000 to
4,000 golden lanceheads living on the island and the species is considered to be critically
endangered. As fragile as their numbers seem to be, stepping
foot on the island can very well be a death sentence for anyone without training and protective
gear. Number 1 Legends
It was inevitable that an island entirely populated by snakes would be surrounded by
a fair degree of mythology. In the local legends the vengeful venomous
snakes have taken their revenge on the people who dared colonize the island that was rightfully
theirs. In one of the stories, a hungry fisherman
went to the island to pluck some bananas, unaware of the dangers. He stepped carelessly and was bitten by a
snake hanging from a tree branch. It’s said that he was later found dead,
on his boat, sprawled in a pool of his own blood. Another story often repeated among locals
concerns the last inhabitants of the island, the lighthouse keeper and his family. One night, they all fell asleep but had forgotten
to close one of the windows. A snake slithered through it and bit one of
the family members, who then awoke in screams. They all fled the home in a panic, racing
to their boat, which was tied nearby. However, before they could reach the boat,
they were viciously attacked by a large number of snakes. The man, his wife and their three children
were all killed. Other legends tell how the snakes got to the
island in the first place. It’s said that Ilha da Queimada Grande was
once a popular place for pirates to bury their stolen treasure. They supposedly left the snakes behind as
protection and brought handlers with them whenever they had to retrieve their loot or
add to it. Thanks for watching! What else do you know about Snake Island? Tell us all about it in the comment section


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