News Article

News Article

Meet the Venomous Inhabitants of Snake Island


Snakes have had a rough go of it the last couple of days here. First we see one getting eviscerated by a centipede, then we see another getting snared by a orb weaver spider.  So let’s take a moment to remember that snakes are not things to be trifled with and they are indeed worthy of our respect.

Illha da Queimada Grande, or Snake island, is a fairly tiny island off the coast of Brazil.  Measuring only 430,000 square meters (.16 square miles) it would be seemingly unremarkable if not for its inhabitants. The Golden Lancehead Viper.  Not only is the species  endemic to this small island, it is one of the world’s most venomous snakes.  And we aren’t talking about a few snakes staving off extinction, they thrive here.  In fact they are the only species of snake on the island.  Local legend has it that there are 5 snakes for every square meter (that is 2.15 million for those counting at home).  As most local legends go, this is likely exaggerated and the number is closer to 1 per one square meter.  Still a frightening thought.

So how deadly are these guys? Well, it is hard to say.  Since the island is not inhabited by humans (The brazillian Navy bans civillians from setting foot here these days) there are no confirmed cases of a human being bitten.  Unconfirmed has 4 people envenomed with 3 dying.  That is an impressivly scary mortality rate if true.  What we do know for a fact is what the venom of other species of lanceheads will do to a person:  swelling, local pain, nausea and vomiting, blood blisters, bruising, blood in the vomit and urine, intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, hemorrhage in the brain and severe necrosis of muscular tissue. The Golden Lancehead has tested as 5x more potent than the next most venomous lacehead (B. jararaca) and is the fastest acting.

[Update: I was just made aware there is a documentary available.]