As if your usual, highly venomous snake wasn’t enough for you, here comes the an ‘exceptionally rare’ two-headed one ready to slither through your nightmares for the next few nights.
Found by a woman in Northern Virginia, who saw the creature outside her home, the snake has been identified has a two-headed baby Eastern Copperhead.
The woman contacted Virginia Wildlife Management and Control, who posted a photo to their Facebook page, writing ‘What are the odds to a find a two headed snake???’
The Wildlife Center of Virginia then recovered the reptile, keen to examine the rare snake.
The snake was taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, where Dr Ernesto, who is ‘a big fan of venomous snakes’, apparently, examined the baby Copperhead.
In a press release, they said:
It appears as though the left head is more dominant – it’s generally more active and responsive to stimulus. Radiographs revealed that the two-headed 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.
Wild two-headed snakes are extremely rare – they just don’t live that long. The herpetologist will continue monitoring the snake; if it survives, it will likely be placed in an educational facility.
A reptile specialist from Virigina, J.D. Kleopfer, told USA Today that two-headed snakes generally don’t live that long because their particular mutation makes it difficult to survive in the wild, in part because the two heads want to do ‘two different things’.
Kleopfer said this Eastern Copperhead was about two weeks old, and only about six inches long. Copperheads can grow to between 18 and 36 inches in length, and though they are venomous, usually do not attack humans unless disturbed.
Writing on his Facebook page, Kleopfer said:
This two-headed copperhead was found in northern Virginia. Wild bicephalic snakes are exceptionally rare, because they just don’t live that long. Too many challenges living day to day with two heads.
Thanks to the Wildlife Center of Virginia we were able to determine that the left head has the dominant esophagus and the right head has the more developed throat for eating. With a little luck and care, we hope to eventually donate it to a zoological facility for exhibit.
The Eastern Copperhead snake is native to eastern North America, and is a member of the Pit Viper snake family.
Pit Vipers are distinguished by their heat-sensing pit organ, located between their eyes and nostrils, which they use to detect small, warm-blooded prey to feed on. When the prey comes in range of the snake, radiation given off by the animal allows the snake to determine how far away and in which direction it is, using their pit organ.