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Island Travel Tips: Miss The Hiss, Pick The Purr

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And let's end this hour with a tour of a couple of far-off places you probably never will get to - two islands, weird in two different ways. David Plotz of the travel website Atlas Obscura offers a travel warning for one of them.

DAVID PLOTZ: About 90 miles off the coast of Brazil is probably the worst island in the world. It's called Snake Island. Estimate is about 500,000 snakes packed into this tiny, little island. And they're not just any snakes. They're the golden lancehead pit vipers, which are among the most poisonous snakes in the world. They're snakes that are so poisonous that when they bite you, the flesh around the bite melts from the poison in it.

So in case you are tempted to make a trip to Snake Island, let me tell you a story. There was a lighthouse on Snake Island. One night, a handful of snakes entered through the window of a lighthouse and began to slither towards the final lighthouse operator and his family. And in a desperate effort to escape, they fled toward their boat, only to be set upon by snakes dropping down from the branches of the trees above them. So you definitely don't want to go to Snake Island.

Let me tell you about another strange little island that you probably do want to go to - Tashirojima, Japan. It's a small island. It's been losing its human population for years. But its cat population has been growing and growing and growing. That's because it's considered good luck by the people of Tashirojima to care for cats and to feed cats. As a result, cats have become the kings and the queens of this island. They rule Tashirojima so much that dogs are not even allowed on the island - although tourists are, which has really helped the local economy. What's funny about Tashirojima is that it's not even the only cat island in Japan. There are now thought to be 11 different islands where cats outnumber people.

MONTAGNE: That was David Plotz of the travel website Atlas Obscura. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.