Nearly a third of adults have an intense fear of snakes, a condition technically known as ophidiophobia. If you're one of them, then the last place you would want to visit is the Brazilian island of Ilha da Queimada Grande, located about 90 miles (145 km) south of downtown São Paulo. Nicknamed "Snake Island," this spit of land off the South American coast in the Atlantic Ocean is off-limits to humans because it’s home to thousands of golden lancehead vipers, one of the world’s most deadly snakes -- and also one of the most rare. Researchers estimate that there are as many as five snakes per square meter (around 11 square feet) on the island.
No island paradise:
- The Brazilian government controls visits to Ilha da Queimada Grande. A doctor must be present for anyone granted special permission to visit the island, such as biologists and researchers.
- Venom from a golden lancehead can kill a person in less than an hour. The venom can lead to kidney failure, necrosis of muscular tissue, brain hemorrhage, and intestinal bleeding.
- The endangered snakes survive on seasonal migratory birds that stop there to rest. The golden lancehead’s venom is nearly five times stronger than any other snake, and bitten birds die almost instantly.