The Truth About The Black Market On Snake Island

Legend has it that Brazil's Ilha da Queimada Grande is covered in some of the world's deadliest snakes thanks to pirates who wanted to protect the treasure they left buried there, according to The Travel. The island is actually more well known by its nickname inspired by the venomous creatures that call it home: "Snake Island." The small plot of dry land less than a hundred miles from Sao Paolo boasts a population of over 2,000 golden lancehead vipers, snakes whose venom is so strong it melts human skin.

Here's a bit of advice you don't need: don't go to Snake Island. Actually, it's not a problem you have to worry about, since the Brazilian government has outlawed any and all visits to Snake Island that aren't officially sanctioned for things like reporting, scientific research, or maintenance to the lighthouse on the island. Still, that doesn't mean that people don't go. To this day, people make unauthorized visits to the place where nightmares become reality (venomous vipers aren't the only thing you have to deal with on Snake Island). But why? Who in their right mind would want to go to Snake Island? Believe it or not, it is home to a product that can be sold for thousands of dollars on the black market, but it isn't buried treasure.

'Biopirates' run the black market on Snake Island

According to Business Insider, the venom of the golden lancehead isn't only good for melting skin. It could also potentially be used to produce medicines that treat heart disease and improve blood circulation. This isĀ why Brazil sends people to Snake Island. It sendsĀ researchers in hopes of getting a very valuable biopharmaceutical patent.

However, the potential for life-changing pharmaceuticals, and therefore life-changing profits, is quite high, so it has been speculated that some researchers are willing to pay a pretty penny to get their hands on golden lanceheads, legally or not. There are always the super-rich who want a specimen of living death just to say they have one, as well. As Vice reported, this demand has led to the creation of a black market for the snakes, operated by people known as "biopirates." For risking their lives, these brave souls have been known to charge as much as $30,000 per snake. So if you can get on and off the island safely with a few specimens safely stowed away in containers, not slithering all over your melting body, you can expect a serious payday.