Snake Hatches Rare Baby With Two Faces

The YouTube Channel, Snake Discovery, shared a recent viral video of a rare two-headed baby snake.

About five days ago, hosts Emily and Ed Roberts discovered their pregnant garter snake, Pruis, had hatched several new offspring. After taking the tank apart, the female co-host found the two-head baby snake with the "umbilical cord wrapped around its body." After removing the last piece of shedding from its head and cleaning the mouth, she realized the two-headed reptile had "two definitive noses" and "one lower jaw."

Roberts did not want to get too attached to the newborn, though, no matter how special it was. She explained, "As neat as this is, it's not a double head situation, where each head is its own individual head. His heads are pretty attached, which is unfortunate. I don't think the little guy is going to make it, but he's still a fascinating animal nonetheless!"

Known as dicephaly, the rare disorder occurs when a developing embryo is splitting into identical twins but stops halfway through. Unfortunately, it's not easy to take care of these creatures in captivity, or in the wild. In addition to suffering from serious health ailments, these snakes can actually cause their own demise, with one head attacking the other, believing it to be a potential threat.

This photo taken on June 20, 2020 shows people looking at pet snakes in Bangkok. Getty/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP

Back in 2002, Gordon Burghardt, a herpetologist at the University of Tennessee, described what life was like for a two-headed snake to National Geographic. Because the two heads are often hungry at the same time, they end up competing against each other to grab the same prey first, not a fun time for anyone involved. Burghardt believed studying these anomalies would "provide some insight into the survival issues faced by conjoined twins."

"Just watching them feed, often fighting over which head will swallow the prey, shows that feeding takes a good deal of time, during which they would be highly vulnerable to predators,"said Burghardt. "They also have a great deal of difficulty deciding which direction to go, and if they had to respond to an attack quickly they would just not be capable of it,"

"These animals shouldn't be looked at as freaks. They're organisms with motivations and individuality just like any other. They provide us with an opportunity to study cooperation and the processes of controlling the same body with two nervous systems," added the herpetologist.

Newsweek reached out to Snake Discovery for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.