Rare Snake Born With 2 Heads and Duplicate Organs Forced To Be Euthanized

A two-headed snake was taken to a local vet in Australia this week, amazing everyone who came into contact with it.

As the egg of this unusual carpet python hatched, the owner originally thought it contained twin snakes—but on further inspection it was something much more unusual.

Taken to The Unusual Pet Vets in Jindalee, Australia, the reptile lovingly dubbed "Two-Face" has received viral attention after being shared on its Facebook page.

"The snake came to me 24 hours after it hatched," Dr. Joshua Llinas from Unusual Pet Vets told Newsweek. "Initially, the egg was thought to contain twins. But once it was out of the egg, the current status was obviously different. The owner wanted to have us assess if it would be viable and would love a good life."

Two-headed snake
The snake under investigation with the contrast dye is highlighted in red and orange. The majority of the dye is going up to only one head, likely due to the heart supplying each head separately, left, and a close-up of the snake lovingly dubbed "Two-Face." The Unusual Pet Vets, Jindalee

Two-headed snakes are not unheard of, but are very unusual, occurring in about one in 100,000 births. Studies into the phenomenon suggest that they are similar to conjoined twins, with each head having its own functioning brain.

Essentially making them two snakes that share a single body.

No underlying issues were reported with the incubation or breeding in this case, leaving the cause of this unusual occurrence a mystery.

"We don't know the exact cause, however it is likely that it is just that it was splitting to become a twin but the separation did not happen fully," said Llinas. "The cause for this is unknown but all the other snakes in the clutch were healthy."

Alongside two visible heads—and brains—the snake had a divided spine and two tracheas leading to two lungs. It also had two oesophagi that was connected to two stomachs before combining into a single shared small intestine, large intestine and cloaca.

The snake had two hearts, but one was less than half of the size of the other and the larger heart was being compressed. They also shared two kidneys and only one testicle where a snake would usually have two each.

Sadly, the outlook for a two-headed snake is poor. After several internal issues were discovered on radiographs and CT scans, it was clear that the snake's chances of a comfortable life were slim and the decision was made to euthanize the animal.

Two headed snake close-up
A picture of the two-headed snake, left, and a shot of the snake inside the hatching egg, right. Although each head functioned independently, whenever it tried to move the left head controlled which direction the snake moved. The Unusual Pet Vets, Jindalee

"Unfortunately, we had to euthanize [it] as the quality of life was not going to be good and [we] thought it was best to prevent unnecessary suffering," said Llinas.

Presented with a rare scenario, the vet was given permission by the owner to conduct a post-mortem exam, allowing them to gain much-needed information about the snake.

In hundreds of comments on Facebook, it was clear that the two-headed snake has peaked the interest of other animal lovers.

"That is fascinating. Poor little snake. Wonderful to be able to learn from this oddity," said one reply.

Another Facebook user wrote: "Fascinating. It's a shame they're not with us, but the decision showed them kindness."