It’s probably a place where you would love to spend an exotic vacation. But… If you were to set foot on the island, you would always be no more than 3 feet away from your death.
The biggest reason the island is isolated for 100,000 years is that extremely venomous and deadly Golden Lancehead snakes “cover” the island. The lanceheads that occupy the island of Ilha de Queimada Grande (Snake Island) can grow anywhere between half a meter to 2 meters long.
The venom these snakes inject is so powerful that it can kill two men at once. This venom is fast-acting too, since it simply melts the flesh surrounding the bite. The scaly creatures breed all year round, producing 50 babies each time. With no enemies, the snakes have been able to take over the island and populate it quite freely. They survive mainly on migratory birds that use the island as a resting point.
Golden Lanceheads are so dangerous that, with the exception of some scientific outfits, the Brazilian Navy has expressly forbidden anyone from landing on the island.
Of course, where there are predators, so must there be local legends. There are two, in fact, associated with Ilha de Queimada Grande. According to one story, a lone fisherman once wandered onto the island unknowingly, to pick a few bananas. He was promptly bitten, but managed to return to his boat. However, the fast-acting venom did its bit and he was found dead a few days later on his drifting boat, in a large pool of blood.
The second legend tells of the gory death of the island’s last lighthouse operator and his family. It is said that one night, several snakes entered through the window and attacked the man, his wife and their three children. They tried to reach their boat in order to escape, but the snakes hanging from the branches injected them with so much venom that they died before reaching the shore . I do wonder how they managed to survive there for as long as they did.
•WHY WAS THE ISLAND NAMED ILHA DE QUEIMADA GRANDE?
‘Queimada’, in Portuguese, is a name for a slash- and- burn fire. There were plans to clear the island to build a banana plantation. However, because of the countless number of snakes on the island, these plans fizzled.
If you want to live life at its fullest… and its shortest, GO TO ILHA DE QUEIMADA GRANDE!
Oh, and No Swimming Please!