An island 20 miles off the coast of Sao Paolo is off limits to visitors by order of the Brazilian government because it is home to thousands of deadly snakes -- so this is pretty much Indiana Jones' worst nightmare.
Ilha Queimada Grande, aptly nicknamed “Snake Island,” is riddled with 4,000 venomous golden lancehead vipers.
It is estimated that there is one snake for every square meter of the island, but others say the figure is as high as five per square meter, the Wall Street Journal reports. The country is also home to the Brazilian wandering spider, the most venomous spider in the world.
It’s believed that sea levels rose 11,000 years ago and separated the snakes from Brazil, resulting in a different evolutionary process than their mainland relatives, Smithsonian notes.
With limited sources of food for the snakes on the island, they began to thrive and preyed on migratory birds.
According to the Daily Mail, to kill prey almost immediately, golden lancehead vipers developed venom as much as five times stronger than other snakes. The venom is so potent it can melt human flesh and could kill a human in a matter of hours; a bite carries a 7-percent chance of death.
Though nobody lives on the island today, scientists are given permission to study the vipers. The Brazilian navy also runs an automated lighthouse there each year.
The last family that lived on the island and operated the lighthouse in the 1920s was allegedly found dead after several snakes slithered through its windows, Atlas Obscura reports. In an effort to escape to their boat, the family members were bitten by snakes in the trees above them.
To visit the island today, permission must be granted by the Brazilian government, and with a doctor closely following.