One of the most venomous snake species in the world lives on a Brazilian island. However, according to recent estimates, it could be threatened with extinction.

The “Ilha de Queimada Grande”, a tiny island off the coast of Brazil, may seem like a tropical paradise at first glance. But according to the British news portal “Mirror”, the island is home to one of the most poisonous snake species in the world – the golden lancehead viper. The high and rapidly increasing snake population makes a visit to the so-called “Snake Island” impossible.

Despite the picturesque landscape with rocky coasts and dense rainforests, visits to the island are strictly prohibited. The “Snake Island” was closed to almost everyone by the Brazilian Navy in the 1920s. The last inhabitants of the island were evacuated when the lighthouse there was converted to be fully automated using modern technology. Due to the high level of danger, the Navy only allows snake experts to visit.

However, according to The Mirror, the snake population on the island may be lower than previously thought. Researchers even suspect that the golden-headed plant viper and other snake species on the island are threatened with extinction.

Previous estimates assumed that around 430,000 lanceheads lived on the island. However, more recent calculations suggest that this value is hardly tenable for the small island. According to the “Mirror”, it is now believed that there are only around 4,000 snakes of this species on the Brazilian island.

Some of the snake species are now classified as critically endangered. Researchers even speculate that incest among the snakes could be a possible reason for the population decline.

The island, which was part of the Brazilian mainland around 10,000 years ago, covers an area of ​​106 hectares and is located about 34 kilometers off the southeastern coast of Brazil. The golden-headed plant viper, whose venom is five times stronger than that of its relatives on the mainland, has to feed almost exclusively on birds due to the lack of mammals.

Although there are about 41 species of birds on Snake Island, only two species – the house wren and the Chilean elaenia – are prey for the snakes, reports the Mirror. Over thousands of years, the snake’s venom has evolved to work quickly enough to kill the birds before they can fly away.

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