Two-headed snake, despite the overwhelming odds of 1/100 million surviving 17 years, stunned scientists
Two-headed snake, despite the overwhelming odds of 1/100 million surviving 17 years, stunned scientists
Animals lalanews

As it enters its 17th year, an exceptionally uncommon two-headed snake has astonished its keepers by defying all forecasts of its eventual mortality.

The black rat snake, which is actually two snakes sharing one body, has reached five feet in length and has already outlived its regular counterparts in the wild.

In 2005, a little kid in the Missouri town of Delta discovered the uncommon serpent in his backyard and took it to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Wildlife Center.

According to Snake specialist Steve Allain, a council member of the British Herpetological Society, the presence of a two-headed snake was already a one-in-a-hundred-thousand-to-one long shot, and its longevity made it a one-in-a-hundred-million-to-one miracle.

He stated, "I am aware of another two-headed snake that lived till the age of 20, therefore it is not difficult for them to live that long."

Nonetheless, it is quite improbable. I would estimate that the odds are one in a hundred million.

This extremely rare two-headed snake, found in a back yard in Missouri in 2005, has managed to survive into its seventeenth year

The black rat snake, which is actually two snakes sharing a single body, has reached a length of five feet and has already surpassed the average lifespan of its wild counterparts.

In 2005, a young kid discovered the uncommon serpent in his backyard in the small Missouri town of Delta and took it to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Wildlife Center.

According to Snake specialist Steve Allain, a council member of the British Herpetological Society, the presence of a two-headed snake was already a one-in-a-hundred-thousand-to-one shot, and the snake's longevity made it a one-in-a-hundred-million-to-one miracle.

He stated, "I know of another two-headed snake that lived to be 20 years old, so it is not impossible for them to live that long."

Nonetheless, it is quite doubtful. I'd estimate that the probability is one in a hundred million.

The black rat snake, which is really two black rat snakes sharing one slithering body, has grown to five feet long and has already exceeded the life expectancy of its regular counterparts in the wild

The black rat snake, which is actually two black rat snakes sharing one body, has reached five feet in length and has already outlived its average counterparts in the wild.

Pictured: An x-ray of the two-headed snake. The snakes share a stomach so technically handlers only need feed one of them but they feed them both to stimulate their natural instincts and provide some mental enrichment

A x-ray of the two-headed snake is shown. The snakes share a stomach, so theoretically only one has to be fed, but both are fed to stimulate their natural impulses and give cerebral stimulation.

Alex Holmes, a naturalist at the conservation center, described some of the difficulties he had in maintaining the health of such an uncommon snake.

"A typical snake of that size would have no trouble devouring mice of normal size," he claimed.

"Yet, their fused spine makes it more difficult for them to swallow all save the smallest, youngest mice, which they defrost from frozen.

"The heads are rather competitive when they eat, so we cover each head individually with a drinking cup and feed them one at a time."

"We wait a period of time to ensure that the food has passed their junction in order to prevent a "traffic jam" caused by the left and right head's food colliding in the esophagus.

Although they share a stomach, we feed them separately to excite their natural impulses and provide cerebral stimulation.

The snake, which is really two snakes sharing one body, may not have survived in the wild.

Alex stated that most conjoined hatchlings would not survive.

"Our 'twins' had a difficult time determining which way to go, squabbling like sisters do, which is acceptable for a life of relaxed confinement."

But, if a hungry hawk, skunk, or raccoon encountered the individual in the wild, they would be an easy meal. Even in captivity, survival is uncommon.

The existence of a two-headed snake was already a one-in-a-100,000 long shot, and that it would live to such a ripe old age made it a one-in-a-hundred-million wonder

Existence of a two-headed snake was already a one-in-a-hundred-thousand-to-one long shot, and its longevity was a one-in-a-hundred-million miracle.

The heads are quite competitive when they eat so handlers cover one head at a time with a drinking cup and feed each individually

The heads are highly competitive when they eat, so caretakers cover each head with a drinking cup and feed them separately.

Snakes can be 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐧 with two heads when an individual egg is fertilized and starts to divide into twins, but doesn't fully separate. In this case, the developing embryo split partially at the top but failed to separate further down, as can be seen in this x-ray

Two-headed snakes are born when a single fertilized egg begins to divide into twins but does not fully separate. As observed on this x-ray, the developing embryo in this instance divided partially at the top but failed to separate farther down.

According to Paul Rowley, a herpetologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, such long odds are impossible to compute.

He stated, "It's challenging enough with any normal hatchling or newborn snake; some will perish for unknown reasons within a group."

Yet, with conjoined animals, such as snakes with two heads, there are compatibility issues, shared organs, and care issues.

'Again, it's similar to conjoined twins; if one becomes unwell or has organ failure or other difficulties, it will affect the other. So, you double the problem.

To survive for 17 years is an impressive feat.

Two-headed snakes are born when a single fertilized egg begins to divide into twins but does not fully separate.

In this instance, the embryo failed to divide farther down after separating partially at the top. The actual date of its birth is uncertain.

Male black rat snakes achieve sexual maturity at seven years and females at nine.

Their primary predators are foxes, hawks, and owls, which they frighten away by coiling their bodies and vibrating their tails in dead leaves to imitate a rattlesnake's rattle.

They are timid creatures that avoid confrontation, but have been observed to attack when they feel threatened. They are venomless.

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