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Exploring the mysteries of Snake Island in Brazil: World's most dangerous place revealed

Snake Island, off Brazil's coast, houses 2,000 to 4,000 Golden Lancehead Vipers, isolated for centuries. Their lethal venom and absence of predators define this perilous, forbidden terrain as their exclusive habitat, making it one of the most treacherous and restricted places on Earth.

Exploring the mysteries of Snake Island in Brazil: World's most dangerous place revealed vkp
First Published Nov 10, 2023, 3:56 PM IST

Snake Island, nestled off the southern coast of Brazil, remains a mystery shrouded in peril. It's home to a unique species, the Golden Lancehead Viper, making it one of the most treacherous and forbidden locations on Earth. Exploring the enigmatic nature of this island reveals the existence of 2,000 to 4,000 highly venomous serpents, the golden lanceheads, with venom potent enough to claim a life within an hour of a single bite.

Just off Brazil’s southern coast lies the infamous Snake Island, officially known as Queimada Grande. Occupying a mere 43 hectares, this rocky terrain hosts a population of Golden Lancehead Vipers, a venomous species known as Bothrops insularis. These serpents, isolated on the island nearly 11,000 years ago during the last ice age due to rising sea levels, have thrived without natural predators.

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Devoid of mammals and limited prey, these vipers evolved into skilled avian hunters, relying primarily on migrating birds that visit the island. This specialized diet is likely attributed to their venom's lethal potency. Unlike other venomous snakes that can track their prey after biting, the golden lanceheads need to ensure rapid prey immobilization to prevent escape.

The venom of these serpents is three to five times more potent than other venomous snakes globally, capable of causing swift and catastrophic tissue dissolution in humans. The Golden Lancehead's venom is notorious for its lethal effects, leading to fatalities within an hour of a bite.
With a length ranging from one to one and a half feet, these vipers, numbering between 2,000 and 4,000, are exclusive to Snake Island, setting it apart as the sole habitat for the Golden Lancehead Viper.

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The prevailing question is: What prompts the overabundance of these vipers on Snake Island? This island, detached from the Amazon forests, was once a part of the Amazon jungle. The geographical separation paved the way for the vipers to inhabit the island exclusively. The absence of natural predators allowed their population to burgeon over the years.

Nearly 11,000 years ago, the rising levels of the Atlantic Ocean during the Ice Age's concluding phase resulted in Snake Island's isolation from the mainland. This natural occurrence trapped the Golden Lancehead Vipers on the island. The absence of creatures preying on snakes facilitated their dominance, leading to their significant population on the island.

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