Nature

Two-Headed Snakes: Double The Danger or Twice As Fascinating?

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Last month, a woman in Virginia found a two-headed copperhead snake in her neighbor’s flowerbed, prompting widespread shock, not to mention, recoil around the country. The venomous young snake (estimated to be about two weeks old and six inches in length) lived to tell about its run-in with the scary one-headed lady, and is now living with an experienced viper handler in Virginia. Many argued that perhaps the Virginia two-headed copperhead was a fake, but officials assured the public that the snake is very much real and that the phenomenon of two-headed snakes isn’t as rare as you might think.

How Long Can A Two-Headed Snake Survive?

two-headed copperhead

Photo: Facebook/Onlineindusnews

Herpetologists say that most two-headed snakes don’t survive long in the wild. In two-headed (or polycephalic) creatures, each of the two heads typically have a brain (in venomous snakes, each head has fangs and venom), and these brains often cause the snake to fight with itself–leading one head to attack the other–usually resulting in death.  Having two heads also makes it more difficult for a snake to find prey and to eat the prey quickly enough to avoid becoming a meal for another predator. The recently discovered two-headed copperhead stands a much better shot at survival in captivity. In fact, a two-headed king snake lived for 17 years in a lab at Arizona State University.

Two-Headed Rat Snake in Waco

two-headed snakes
Photo: Facebook/Amazingphotos

A two-headed rat snake was found in central Texas in 2016. The polycephalic rat snake was discovered when a Waco-area woman’s dog chased it under a porch. The snake was recovered and taken to the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, where the snake was cared for. (There’s no word on if the snake is still alive and well at the zoo).  

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