How Likely Are You to Find a Two-Headed Snake?


Could a two-headed snake be in this pile?| Loren Elliot/AFP/Getty Images

If the thought of finding a snake in your garden gives you the creeps, imagine finding one with two heads. That’s what happened to one Virginia resident who consulted with the Virginia Herpetological Society to confirm the finding.

“Wild bicephalic snakes are exceptionally rare, because they just don’t live that long,” J.D. Kleopfer of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries posted on Facebook, CNN reports. “Too many challenges living day to day with two heads.”

The snake found in Virginia is a young, Eastern Copperhead snake, which was taken into captivity for care and further study. The Wildlife Center of Virginia found, “The snake has two tracheas (the left one is more developed), two esophaguses (the right one is more developed), and the two heads share one heart and one set of lungs. Based on the anatomy, it would be better for the right head to eat, but it may be a challenge since the left head appears more dominant.”

While the thought of finding a snake like this might make your skin crawl, how likely are you to discover a creature like this while you are gardening? Plus what do researchers know about two-headed snakes?

Is this a hoax?

In the land of “fake news,” some people question if the discovery is real. Snopes debunked this image of a seven-headed snake allegedly found in Honduras stating that it is possible, but extremely rare, for a reptile to have three heads, no animal is on record having more than three heads.

That being said, while skeptics questioned whether the latest discovery was real, Virginia Wildlife Management and Control assured people the two-headed snake was, indeed real.

Is the snake poisonous?

While copperhead snakes are considered to be poisonous, their bite is rarely fatal, according to Live Science. But their venom can cause some tissue damage and if you are bitten, you should seek medical attention.

In this case, two heads could spell double trouble. Both heads could bite a victim, each delivering venom, according to The New York Post.

How does a two-headed snake form?

Like other conjoined animals, a two-headed snake develops when the embryo splits into identical twins, but ceases to fully split, Newsweek reports. Separation is possible if the heads act independently.

What is the typical lifespan?

The two-headed snake is going to face a number of challenges just to stay alive. Most two-headed animals do not survive for long. Often, both heads will disagree and physically fight with each other.

While the usual lifespan is short, one two-headed snake was documented as living 17 years. The snake was kept in captivity at Arizona State University, according to Newsweek.

Does the snake require special care?

One two-headed snake owner told Newsweek how she cared for a two-headed rat snake she owned named Filo and Gumbo. For the most part, two-headed snake owner, Tanee Janusz said to Newsweek she provided the same environment to the snake as she would any other reptile. But with one difference: making sure the water bowl wasn’t too deep so one head couldn’t drown the other.

“The best thing is just letting people look at them,” Janusz said. “Their exceptionality makes people lower their guard down a little bit and makes them more open to talking about them.”

Could you find one in your yard?

While rare, a two-headed boa constrictor was discovered as recently as March, National Geographic reports. The snake came from a breeder, who not only had a snake with two heads, it also had two hearts, which is extremely rare. So while two-headed snakes are possible, it isn’t likely you will come across one while gardening.

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