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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Check Out These Ssseriously Cool Golden Lancehead Facts

One of the interesting golden lancehead facts is that it has a golden or light yellow-brown colored body.

Golden lanceheads are pit vipers that are endemic to and found only in the Quiemada Grande Island in Brazil. This island, off the coast of Sao Paulo state, has become known as snake island. This is because of the golden lancehead viper population on the island and the fact that there are no humans allowed to visit the island except the Brazilian navy since the species has been declared Critically Endangered by the IUCN red list. The golden lancehead snake has been named so for its light yellow-brown appearance and its lance-like head, which is elongated and pointed at the nose. Also, the golden lancehead snake can live on one to two birds per year, particularly the Chilean elaenia bird species, which are migratory birds on the snake island. The snake is also known to even resort to cannibalism and one of the most venomous snakes in South America, although no human deaths have been recorded due to the golden lancehead viper since the snake island is inaccessible.

For more relatable content, check out these common garter snake facts and horned viper facts pages.

Golden Lancehead Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a golden lancehead?

The golden lancehead (Bothrops insularis) is a snake.

What class of animal does a golden lancehead belong to?

The golden lancehead (Bothrops insularis) belongs to the Reptilia (reptiles) class of animals.

How many golden lanceheads are there in the world?

Since access to the Ilha da Queimada Grande (an island off the coast of the state of Sao Paulo in mainland Brazil), the only island where golden lancehead snakes are found, is restricted, it is unclear how many golden lancehead snakes are left in the world. Some estimates believe that there are about 2,000-4,000 individual snakes on the island.

Where does a golden lancehead live?

Golden lancehead snakes (Bothrops insularis) are native to the Ilha da Queimada Grande, an island off the São Paulo Coast in the country of Brazil in South America. This is not a big island, and it only measures 4,628,481 sq. ft. (430,000 sq. m.). The only predators to live on the ground are the golden lancehead snakes on the island.

What is a golden lancehead's habitat?

On Ilha da Queimada Grande island, the habitat of the golden lancehead viper can be described as tropical or subtropical moist forests or rainforests. No humans are allowed on this island, and not many other mammals live on the island either. Golden lancehead snakes may live in different types of vegetation on the island like clearings, forests, and shrubs. The climate of the island can be said to be mild, with temperatures always staying close to 64-72 F (18-22C). The island also has a very rocky terrain. Golden lancehead snakes have been observed in trees on this island looking for prey or sheltering in rock crevices, as well as leaf litter when the weather is unsuitable or to rest after having eaten.

Whom do golden lanceheads live with?

Golden lancehead snakes are solitary creatures that get together only for breeding activities.

How long does a golden lancehead live?

Not much data is present on the lifespans of golden lancehead snakes, but being pit vipers, they may live for 15 years on average.

How do they reproduce?

Golden lancehead snakes meet up for mating and breeding activities once a year. The breeding cycles of these snakes may be dependent on the seasonal migratory birds they prey on. The reproduction takes place during the summer months of August and September on the island. They use both the trees and the ground of the island for sites of breeding. The golden lancehead gives birth to a litter of six to eight young vipers. The babies of the golden lancehead are believed to be of similar dimensions as the sister species Bothrops jararaca. They may be close to 10 in (25 cm) and weigh 0.3 oz (10 g) at birth.

What is their conservation status?

The Conservation Status of the golden lancehead species of snakes, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is of Least Concern.

Golden Lancehead Fun Facts

What do golden lanceheads look like?

Golden lanceheads have elongated heads and pointed noses or 'lance heads.'

Golden lancehead snakes grow up to lengths of 28-35 in (70-90 cm), but they are known to also reach lengths as big as 46 in (118 cm). They get their names from their undersides which are a light yellow-brown color. Their bodies are adorned with many triangular or quadrangular blotches on their dorsal sides. The blotches may be narrow or broad. When kept in captivity, the golden lancehead becomes a darker yellow color, a result of poor blood circulation, which itself is a result of feeble thermoregulation. The vipers take on a banded look when patterns are opposite. The head of the golden lancehead does not have a postorbital stripe. The 'lancehead' in their names comes from the elongated head with the pointed nose. Golden lancehead snakes have longer tails than their closest relative, the Bothrops jararaca vipers. The snakes do not have prehensile tails, but the length enables them to get to the bird-prey on trees.

How cute are they?

The word cute does not apply to the golden lancehead snakes. Yes, they are a beautiful golden color with prominent long heads and pointed snouts. However, they are very deadly creatures with one of the fastest-acting snake venoms. They have long tails and may look beautifully banded or be adorned with darker blotches. They are majestic but deadly yet critically endangered. They are the objects of the fascination of many since they are found only on one island in the entire world, the Ilha de Queimada Grande in Brazil, which has inconspicuously been named 'Snake Island.'

How do they communicate?

Being snakes, golden lancehead snakes communicate via pheromones. Pheromones are essentially chemical signals that contain information about the availability, gender, and age of a lancehead. They are made by their glands and detected through the vomeronasal organs. Golden lanceheads may also use their long tails to mimic the movements of their prey, also known as caudal luring.

How big is a golden lancehead?

The golden lancehead is typically 28-35 in (70-90 cm) in length, which makes it two to three times bigger than the worm snake. It is also similar in size to the cottonmouth snake and the copperhead snake.

How fast can a golden lancehead move?

Being pit vipers, golden lanceheads may move at least at speeds of 2 mph (3.3 kph).

How much does a golden lancehead weigh?

Golden lanceheads weigh around 6-11 lb (3-5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males and females of the golden lancehead species of snakes do not have sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby golden lancehead?

A baby golden lancehead would be called a snakelet.

What do they eat?

The adult of the golden lancehead species of snakes' diet consists mostly of perching birds from trees. These snakes like to prey on the Chilean elaenia bird. They can survive on as little as one to two birds per whole year. They may also eat lizards and arthropods. Golden lanceheads also exhibit cannibalism wherein they eat their own kind, the juveniles and young lanceheads like feeding on invertebrates.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, golden lanceheads are extremely dangerous. It is a highly venomous snake, one of the most venomous in South America. It has one of the quickest acting venoms in its genus and is five times stronger than its relative species, Bothrops jararaca. However, since it lives on a closed island, the golden lancehead's venom has not become adaptive to mammals but to its prey of birds and arthropods. But going by other lancehead snake venom statistics, 7% of the people bitten by lanceheads die without treatment, and the mortality rate is 3% with treatment. There hasn't been a single death by the golden lancehead snake since no human is allowed on the Ilha da Queimada Grande Island. The dangers of being bitten may include vomiting, intestinal bleeding, nausea, blisters, blood in urine and vomit, brain hemorrhaging, necrosis of muscular tissue.

Would they make a good pet?

They would definitely not make a good pet. They live on an island that has no human entry, and it is a critically endangered species whose habitat needs to be preserved urgently. Also, it is a highly venomous snake, with five times stronger venom than the Bothrops jararaca snake species.

Did you know...

Snake Island is forbidden to human visitors due to it being overrun by golden lancehead snakes and since they are the most venomous snakes in Latin America. The only people allowed to visit the island are the Brazilian navy, who must maintain a lighthouse on the island.

The Inland Taipan snake is widely thought to be one of the most venomous snakes in the world. One snake bite may contain 0.003 oz (110 mg) of venom, which is more than enough to cause 100 human deaths. Found in the Australian part of the world, the venom of the inland taipan causes paralysis of the muscles, hemorrhaging of blood vessels, and muscle damage.

The golden lancehead snake's venom has exhibited encouraging results in relation to the treatment of circulation and blood clots, as well as heart disease. This may have resulted in the exploitation of the population of snakes of the golden lancehead species since scientists sought the species by over-harvesting and even black market sales by smugglers sneaking onto the island.

The population of snakes of the golden lancehead species is suffering from habitat destruction and the black market sales for animal collectors and unethical scientists. Not long ago, there were efforts to use the land of their island for agriculture, and fires were set, leading to significant habitat destruction. Also, the mainland Brazilian people may have been biased due to the lethality and deadliness of the other Bothrops species, the Bothrops jararaca. The presence of the Brazilian navy doesn't help either since they tend to remove vegetation for the lighthouse that they maintain on the island.

Which island has the most snakes?

It is indeed the Ilha da Queimada Grande Island off the São Paulo Coast in mainland Brazil that has the most snakes in the world. It has been hence named Snake Island, and the golden lancehead dominates the population of this island. A 2015 population estimate suggested that there are 2,000-4,000 adult individuals on the snake island.

Can golden lancehead Vipers swim?

No, the golden lancehead species of vipers cannot swim. They have been restricted to the Ilha de Queimada Grande Island because they cannot swim. The island was disconnected from the mainland of Brazil over 11,000 years ago due to a rise in the sea levels, trapping the species there.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes, including Indian cobra facts or European viper facts.

You can occupy yourself at home by coloring in our free printable Golden Lancehead coloring pages.

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