'Snake Island' Is Home To 4,000 Serpents With Flesh-Melting Venom
I don't know about you, but 'Snake Island' doesn't really sound that appealing to me.
'Puppy/Milkshake/Hammock Island' - when's the next boat out there?
'Snake Island' - no, ta.
But sometimes, the name of something makes it sound much worse than it actually is, take kumquats for example. However, in the case of the so-called 'Snake Island', it really is as bad as it sounds.
Located off the southeastern coast of Brazil near Sao Paulo, there are around 4,000 snakes on the island - which is the equivalent of between three and five snakes per square metre. To make matters worse, these aren't just cuddly grass snakes. To the contrary, the island is in fact known for its golden lancehead population.
The critically endangered species is one of the most deadly in the world; its flesh-melting venom is so potent it could kill a person within an hour.
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It's no disappointment then to learn that people are not allowed to visit the island, which is formally named Ilha da Queimada Grande. Authorities allow only a small handful of scientists to visit each year, but 9 News reporter, Tara Brown, was given unprecedented access for 60 Minutes and was accompanied by a medical team on the island.
Speaking to news.com.au, she said she was warned not to go by local fishermen.
She said: "When we're speaking to local fisherman, they told us, 'That's not a good idea, you don't want to go there'. There are legends about a whole family being killed there, and of pirates burying treasure on the island and the snakes being put there to protect the treasure.
"The fishermen said they never went there, or they would die."
As if all this wasn't daunting enough, the venom of the golden lanceheads has actually evolved to be way more deadly in the islanders, as opposed to the species on the mainland.
Brown explained: "They're different to their mainland cousins in that they're five times more venomous and they are among the top 10 most poisonous snakes in the world.
"They hunt and eat birds. Not the local birds, who have become too smart for them, but larger migratory birds, boobies, who come by on their migration. And the snakes' venom has become more potent because their prey is bigger.
"It's an incredibly interesting evolutionary experiment for scientists to observe. This is a laboratory in the wild, if you like. You see evolution at play."
That is undeniably interesting Tara, but I think I'd rather see this evolution at play on my TV screen.
Featured Image Credit: 9 News