Ilha da Queimada Grande

Snake Island, officially known as Ilha da Queimada Grande, is a small, uninhabited landmass located off the coast of Brazil.

Renowned for its unique ecosystem and notorious reputation, Snake Island has captured the imagination of adventurers, scientists, and storytellers alike.

Despite its diminutive size, Snake Island plays a significant role in the preservation of biodiversity.

Its isolated nature has fostered the evolution of distinct species, including the golden lancehead snake, making it a crucial site for scientific study and conservation efforts.

This article delves deep into the mysteries of Snake Island, exploring its geographic features, unique fauna, historical significance, and the conservation challenges it faces.

From the venomous inhabitants to the delicate balance of its ecosystem, readers will gain insight into the complexities of this enigmatic island.

Geographic Overview of Snake Island

snake island brazil

Snake Island, also known as Ilha da Queimada Grande, is situated approximately 90 miles off the coast of São Paulo, Brazil, in the Atlantic Ocean.

Its coordinates are approximately 24 degrees south latitude and 46 degrees west longitude.

The terrain of Snake Island is characterized by rugged cliffs, rocky outcroppings, and dense vegetation.

The climate is tropical, with warm temperatures year-round and high humidity levels.

The island’s vegetation consists of lush forests, shrubs, and diverse plant species adapted to its unique ecosystem.

How Big is Snake Island? Is it Open to Visitors?

Snake Island spans approximately 43 hectares (106 acres) in size, making it relatively small in comparison to other landmasses.

Due to its designation as a protected area and its status as a habitat for endangered species like the golden lancehead snake, Snake Island is not open to visitors.

Access to the island is strictly controlled by the Brazilian government and requires special permits for research purposes.

Fauna of Snake Island

snake island

The Golden Lancehead Snake (Bothrops insularis)

The golden lancehead snake, scientifically known as Bothrops insularis, is a venomous pit viper species endemic to Snake Island.

It is characterized by its distinctive light yellow and light brown coloration, which provides camouflage in its forest habitat.

The snake’s elongated head and slender body enable it to maneuver through the dense vegetation with agility.

Adapted to life on Snake Island, the golden lancehead has evolved unique hunting behaviors and strategies. It primarily preys on birds, using its venom to immobilize and digest its prey.

The snake is primarily nocturnal, seeking shelter in the island’s rocky crevices and vegetation during the day.

The venom of the golden lancehead is highly potent, containing hemotoxic components that can cause severe tissue damage and internal bleeding in humans.

While mortality rates are relatively low with prompt medical treatment, untreated bites can result in life-threatening complications.

The population of golden lancehead snakes on Snake Island is estimated to be between 2,400 and 2,900 individuals, making it a critically endangered species.

Habitat loss, poaching, and declining prey populations pose significant threats to the survival of the golden lancehead and its ecosystem.

Other Species on Snake Island:

In addition to the golden lancehead snake, Snake Island is home to a diverse array of fauna, including endemic bird species, insects, and other reptiles.

The island’s isolation has led to the evolution of distinct ecological niches and specialized adaptations among its inhabitants, making it a site of great scientific interest and conservation value.

The Golden Lancehead: Unique Snake of Snake Island

golden lancehead

The golden lancehead snake (Bothrops insularis) stands as the emblematic resident of Snake Island, captivating researchers and enthusiasts alike with its distinct characteristics and ecological significance.

The evolutionary history of the golden lancehead traces back to the end of the last ice age, over 11,000 years ago.

Rising sea levels isolated Snake Island from the mainland, creating a unique ecosystem where the golden lancehead thrived in isolation.

The golden lancehead exhibits remarkable physical adaptations suited to its island habitat.

Its light yellow and light brown coloration provides effective camouflage among the island’s vegetation, while its slender body and specialized head shape facilitate agile movement and effective prey capture.

The venom of the golden lancehead is among the most potent of any snake species, containing hemotoxic components that can induce severe tissue damage and internal bleeding in humans.

Despite its deadly reputation, fatalities from golden lancehead bites are rare due to limited human interaction and prompt medical intervention.

The golden lancehead has garnered its fair share of myths and misconceptions, perpetuated by its remote habitat and fearsome reputation.

However, scientific research has shed light on the true nature of the snake, emphasizing its ecological role and the importance of conservation efforts to preserve its fragile habitat.

The Threats Facing the Golden Lancehead

Bothrops insularis

The population of golden lancehead snakes on Snake Island faces significant challenges due to habitat constraints and limited resources.

Estimates suggest that between 2,400 and 2,900 individuals inhabit the island, making the species critically endangered.

Deforestation on the mainland poses a grave threat to Snake Island’s ecosystem.

The loss of forest cover diminishes habitat connectivity and disrupts ecological balance, reducing prey availability and exacerbating competition among species.

The golden lancehead relies primarily on bird species for sustenance, but declining prey populations threaten the snake’s survival.

Human-induced disturbances, including habitat destruction and pollution, contribute to the depletion of prey populations, amplifying the challenges faced by the golden lancehead.

The illicit trade in exotic wildlife presents a grave threat to the golden lancehead snake. Poachers target the species for its rarity and high market value, driving illegal trafficking and exploitation.

Stringent enforcement measures and conservation initiatives are essential to combat poaching and safeguard the golden lancehead’s future.

Dangers of Visiting Snake Island

hiking snake island

Visiting Snake Island presents significant risks and legal challenges due to its remote location, treacherous terrain, and protected status.

Unauthorized access to the island is strictly prohibited by Brazilian authorities to safeguard both visitors and the delicate ecosystem.

Snake Island lacks adequate medical facilities and emergency services, posing a grave risk to individuals in the event of accidents or medical emergencies.

The remote nature of the island exacerbates the challenges associated with accessing timely medical care.

Brazilian government policies prohibit unauthorized visits to Snake Island to protect visitors and preserve the island’s fragile ecosystem.

Violations of these regulations may result in severe legal consequences and endanger both individuals and the environment.

The Brazilian government strictly controls access to Snake Island to minimize human impact and mitigate potential threats to wildlife populations.

Special permits are required for research and conservation purposes, and access is granted only to authorized personnel under strict supervision.

Researchers and conservationists working on Snake Island must adhere to stringent safety protocols to mitigate risks and ensure their well-being.

Precautionary measures include thorough risk assessments, emergency preparedness, and adherence to established safety guidelines and procedures.

Snake Population and Habitat Considerations

golden lancehead snakes

The population of golden lancehead snakes on Snake Island is estimated to be between 2,400 and 2,900 individuals, making it a critically endangered species.

These estimations underscore the fragile status of the golden lancehead population and the need for conservation efforts to protect its habitat.

Several factors influence the population dynamics of golden lancehead snakes on Snake Island.

Habitat loss, deforestation, and declining prey populations pose significant challenges to the survival of the species.

Changes in vegetation structure and prey availability can impact snake behavior and reproductive success, further exacerbating population decline.

The population density of golden lancehead snakes on Snake Island poses challenges for human safety and wildlife conservation efforts.

High population densities increase the likelihood of human-snake encounters, raising concerns about visitor safety and the need for strict access controls.

Additionally, conservation initiatives must consider the impact of population density on habitat quality and ecosystem health to ensure the long-term viability of the golden lancehead population.

Conservation Efforts and Initiatives


The golden lancehead snake (Bothrops insularis) is classified as a critically endangered species by conservation organizations due to habitat loss, poaching, and declining prey populations.

Its precarious conservation status underscores the urgent need for proactive measures to protect its habitat and ensure its long-term survival.

Numerous research projects are underway to better understand the ecology, behavior, and conservation needs of the golden lancehead snake.

Scientists and conservationists are conducting field studies, population surveys, and genetic analyses to assess the health of snake populations and identify key threats to their survival.

These research efforts provide valuable insights into effective conservation strategies and inform management decisions aimed at protecting the golden lancehead and its habitat.

Government agencies and conservation organizations have implemented legal protections and enforcement measures to combat poaching and habitat destruction on Snake Island.

Strict regulations govern access to the island, and penalties are enforced for unauthorized activities.

Law enforcement agencies collaborate with local communities, researchers, and conservationists to monitor illegal activities and enforce conservation laws effectively.


The golden lancehead snake, endemic to Snake Island, plays a crucial role in maintaining the island’s delicate ecosystem.

As a top predator, it regulates prey populations and helps maintain ecological balance. Its presence is indicative of the island’s unique biodiversity and evolutionary significance.

The conservation of Snake Island and its inhabitants, including the golden lancehead snake, is of paramount importance.

Habitat loss, poaching, and human disturbance pose significant threats to the island’s fragile ecosystem.

Urgent conservation efforts are needed to protect Snake Island’s biodiversity and preserve its ecological integrity for future generations.

snakes island

FAQ’s About Snake Island – (Ilha da Queimada Grande)

How many snakes live on Snake Island?

Snake Island, also known as Ilha da Queimada Grande, is estimated to be home to between 2,400 and 2,900 golden lancehead snakes (Bothrops insularis).

Is it allowed to go to Snake Island?

No, it is not allowed to visit Snake Island without special permits from the Brazilian government.

Access to the island is strictly controlled due to its protected status and the presence of endangered species.

Can you walk on Snake Island?

Access to Snake Island is restricted, and visitors are not permitted to walk on the island without special authorization from the Brazilian authorities.

Was Achilles buried on Snake Island?

There is no historical evidence or legend suggesting that Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War, was buried on Snake Island.

The island is primarily known for its unique ecosystem and the presence of the golden lancehead snake.

Can you survive Snake Island?

Surviving on Snake Island would be extremely challenging due to its remote location, harsh terrain, and the presence of venomous snakes.

Access to essential resources such as food, water, and medical assistance is limited, making survival on the island highly improbable.

How did Snake Island get so many snakes?

Snake Island’s isolation and unique ecosystem have contributed to the proliferation of snake populations, particularly the golden lancehead snake.

The species became trapped on the island after rising sea levels separated it from the mainland thousands of years ago, allowing the snake population to evolve and thrive in isolation.

brazil snake island

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate.Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions.He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

Thanks for your enquiry.

Check your email shortly for the ebook download link.

Download Island Buyers Guide Ebook

Please fill in your details below and we will send you this ebook via email