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We Found It—the Deadliest Place on Earth.

Don’t get any ideas, thrill seekers. If you haven’t already heard of Ilha de Queimada Grande, a deceptively beautiful island off the coast of Brazil, you’ll be surprised to hear that is possibly the deadliest place on Earth. Why? Well, in English, it’s called Snake Island, and perhaps that’s all you need to know.

Snake Island is home to zero humans (in fact, it’s illegal for humans to go there without special permission) and up to 4,000 highly venomous snakes. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill venomous snakes, either. The idyllic-looking Queimada Grande is the only place in the world where golden lancehead pit vipers (Bothrops insularis) live.

Research suggests this species’ venom is particularly potent. For one thing, it’s the fastest-acting venom of any lancehead snake. It’s also five times more potent than venom from Bothrops jararaca, a closely related lancehead that lives on mainland Brazil.

Scientists believe the golden lanceheads’ venom is so powerful because they’ve evolved to catch airborne prey, particularly migratory birds that unknowingly stop for a rest on Snake Island. Typical venom works too slowly. After a snake with typical venom struck, the bird would fly away, only to die elsewhere and feed a different animal. On the other hand, a golden lancehead’s venom makes a near-instant kill.

Can You Go to Snake Island?

You can’t go to Snake Island unless you’re a scientist. The Brazilian government has restricted access to the island since the 1920s. This is both to protect humans from the golden lanceheads and to protect the golden lanceheads from humans. (The snakes are critically endangered.)

Unless you’re studying these animals, we’re not sure why you’d want to go to one of the deadliest places on Earth, anyway.

Except for maybe the pirate treasure, but you didn’t hear that from us.

The legends surrounding Snake Island are fascinating. In an interview with 60 Minutes Australia, one local tells the tale of a family that lived on the island—the lighthouse keepers. He says one night, snakes crawled into the family’s home through the windows and killed them all. Another legend suggests pirates hid treasure there, where the snakes would protect it for all of eternity.

Learn more about Snake Island and watch a team of scientists go there to “milk” the snakes:

What fascinates you most about Snake Island?

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