Ilha da Queimada Grande (known informally as "Snake Island") is a 43,000 mi2 uninhabited island off the coast of São Paulo, Brazil, home to the Golden Lancehead, a species of fer-de-lance endemic to the island.

With five times the toxicity of its mainland cousins (the Fer-de-lance itself being responsible for more snakebite related fatalities in the Americas than any other snake), the Golden Lancehead is considered among the most venomous species in the world. And because of its abundance of food (particularly small insects and migratory birds) and absence of any natural predators, Queimada Grande has developed one of the densest populations of snakes on the planet. Conservative estimates place the number of Golden Lanceheads at about one snake per square meter.

Due to the extreme risk the snakes pose to humans—and the potential risk that humans may pose to the critically endangered Golden Lanceheads—access to the island is prohibited by the Brazilian government, outside of authorized scientific studies.


  1. "Paradise for Pit Vipers" by Robin Eveleigh, Minnesota Herpetological Society Newsletter (October 2000)
  2. "Golden lancehead (Bothrops insularis)" ARKive
  3. "Bothrops insularis (Golden Lancehead, Queimada Island Bothrops)" IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
  4. Lewis' dictionary of toxicology by Robert Alan Lewis (1998)
  5. "Island of the Golden Snakes" YouTube (June 20th, 2008)

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