The existence of a two-headed snake is, in fact, an extremely rare phenomenon, and can be a fascinating topic for scientists and reptile enthusiasts alike. These unique creatures often face significant challenges due to their unusual condition, and many do not survive long in the wild or in captivity. However, it appears that this particular two-headed snake has defied all predictions of its imminent demise and has managed to live a relatively long life of 17 years.
The ability of this two-headed snake to survive for such a remarkable period is quite astonishing and highlights the resilience of nature.
The discovery of a black rat snake with two heads is, without a doubt, an extraordinary and rare event. Such conditions, known as bicephaly or polycephaly, are extremely rare in the animal kingdom. The fact that this particular snake has managed to grow up to five feet long and has already surpassed the lifespan of its regular counterparts in the wild is quite remarkable.
The snake’s unique condition likely presents challenges to its survival, as it has to navigate the world with two heads sharing one body. However, the fact that it lived beyond the typical lifespan of a normal black rat snake demonstrates its resilience and ability to adapt.
When a boy found the snake in his yard in Delta, Missouri, in 2005, he brought it to the Cape Girardeau Nature Conservation Center for care and study. These unique cases offer scientists and researchers a rare opportunity to study the biology and behavior of animals with congenital anomalies, shedding light on the complexities of development and genetics.
While it may be tempting to keep such a rare creature as a pet, it is crucial to remember that wild animals, especially those with special needs or conditions, require specialized care and expertise. Conservation centers and wildlife sanctuaries are better equipped to provide appropriate care and ensure the well-being of such animals.
The survival and thriving life of the black rat snake serves as a testament to the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries it still has in store for us to explore and understand.
The existence of a two-headed snake is already an incredibly rare occurrence, with odds estimated at one in a hundred thousand. The fact that this particular snake lived to such an old age makes it even more exceptional, becoming one wonder in a hundred million, according to snake expert Steve Allain, a board member of the British Herpetological Society.
Steve Allain also mentioned that he knows of another two-headed snake that survived to be 20 years old, indicating that it is not impossible for such snakes to live for a long period of time. However, it remains highly unlikely. He estimates that the chance of a two-headed snake reaching such an old age is about one in a hundred million.
These unique cases of bicephaly or polycephaly in snakes offer a glimpse into the fascinating world of natural anomalies and the complexities of genetics and development. They also highlight the diversity and complexity of life on Earth, reminding us of the wonders that still exist in the animal kingdom.
Keeping a two-headed snake alive presents unique challenges, as described by Alex Holmes, a naturalist at the conservation center. Normally, a snake its size would be able to easily eat full-sized mice. However, their joined backbone makes it more difficult for them to swallow anything other than very small young mice, which are provided thawed.
Feeding both heads can be a competitive process, so cover one head at a time with a drinking glass and feed each head individually. This careful and attentive feeding process ensures that both heads receive the required sustenance.
Caring for a two-headed snake requires specialized knowledge and attention to its specific needs. These remarkable creatures challenge our understanding of the natural world and remind us of the incredible diversity and adaptability found in the animal kingdom.
Caring for these conjoined twin snakes requires careful attention and measures to avoid potential health problems. The conservation center must wait a period after feeding to ensure that the food has passed the junction between the left and right head to avoid a “traffic jam” in their shared esophagus.
Despite the unique challenges they face, the center feeds both heads individually to stimulate their natural instincts and provide mental enrichment. In the wild, these conjoined snakes—strictly speaking, two snakes sharing a body—would have little chance of surviving. Most Siamese babies do not survive in the wild.
While the two-headed snake twins may have a hard time deciding which path to take, like arguing sisters, it’s not a problem in the conservation center’s leisurely captivity. However, if they were in the wild and faced with hungry predators like hawks, skunks, or raccoons, their slow reaction to danger would make them vulnerable.
Even in captivity, the survival of such a unique specimen is rare, but the conservation center’s efforts give these remarkable creatures the opportunity to thrive and be studied, contributing to our understanding of the fascinating diversity of the natural world.
Paul Rowley, a herpetologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, explained that calculating the survival chances of conjoined twin snakes is virtually impossible. Even with normal babies or newborn snakes, there will be some that do not survive for unknown reasons.
For bonded animals like two-headed snakes, there are additional complexities regarding their compatibility with each other, what organs they share, and how they are cared for. If one of the conjoined twins becomes ill or experiences organ failure or problems, it will inevitably affect the other, doubling the challenges.
Therefore, the fact that these two-headed snakes have managed to survive for 17 years is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the dedicated care provided by the conservation center and the expertise of the specialists involved. Conjoined twins in the animal kingdom face unique challenges and their longevity is a fascinating and significant phenomenon in the world of herpetology.
In fact, snakes can be born with two heads when a single egg is fertilized and begins to divide into twins, but the division does not completely separate. In the case of the black rat snake mentioned above, the developing embryo partially divided at the top but did not separate lower down, resulting in the two-headed snake. The exact date of his birth is unknown.
Black rat snakes reach sexual maturity at around seven years for males and nine years for females. Its main predators are foxes, hawks and owls, which it tries to scare away by imitating the rattle of a rattlesnake. They do this by coiling their body and vibrating their tail on dead leaves, creating a sound similar to a rattlesnake’s warning rattle. Despite their ability to attack when threatened, they are generally shy creatures that avoid confrontations. Additionally, black rat snakes are nonvenomous, meaning they pose no threat to humans.