Inside forbidden snake island – from grisly deaths to deadly vipers at each step

If you sailed past this unassuming island off the coast of Brazil, you could be tempted to drop anchor and explore.

The picturesque Ilha da Queimada Grande, south of Sao Paulo, is surrounded by clear water and covered in bare rock and lush greenery.

But you’d be risking your life if you actually stepped foot onto the 110 acre land mass.

It has been nicknamed “snake island” because it’s inhabited by countless golden lancehead pit vipers.

While you’d have a chance of surviving a bite from a lancehead on the mainland, venom from the golden species is believed to be five times more potent.

The potential to come out alive is extremely slim – especially as the island is remote and without medical facilities.

Experts believe the deadly reptiles took over as sea levels rose and cut Ilha da Queimada Grande off from the mainland.

The venomous snakes adapted to the environment and quickly multiplied.

Today, some estimate there’s one golden lancehead viper every square metre.

According to Vice reporters that visited the island, getting bitten by one of the snakes “liquifies your insides”.

And molecular biology Bryan Fry told 60 Minutes: "With these snakes it will be a particularly painful death. You’re going to die screaming.”

For this reason, the island is completely inhabitable.

There are plenty of legends about people perishing on snake island, although records haven’t been confirmed.

One terrifying tale recalls a man sailing up to the island to pick bananas.

According to folkore, he tried to run back to his boat after being bitten but fell to the floor in a pool of blood before he could make it.

Another equally horrifying story claims a lighthouse keeper and his family lost their lives after being bitten by vipers.

But despite these reports, people still brave Ilha da Queimada Grande.

The island has an automated lighthouse that requires annual maintenance.

According to Vice, the Brazilian Navy has the tricky task of carrying out the inspection.

You need to get permission from the Brazilian government to visit Ilha da Queimada Grande – and must take a doctor with you.

Typically, it’s only scientific researchers or reporters that get their requests accepted.

But some dark tourists let their curiosities get the better of them.

On YouTube and Instagram, pictures and videos show people sailing off the coast of Ilha de Queimada Grande.

Thankfully, the posts we’ve seen show people keeping a safe enough distance from snakes.

Many fish, scuba dive or sunbathe from the safety of boats – and they’re certainly braver than we are!

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