Scientists Explain Two-Headed Snake Discovered in Florida

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A house cat recently discovered a rare two-headed racer snake in Palm Harbor, Florida. The cat’s owners, the Rogers family, named the snake “Dos” as it was revealed to have 2 brains, 2 throats, and one scaly body. The family got in touch with local reptile experts to help construct a safe habitat for the snake, which stayed with them for a few days.

The family got introduced to the supernatural serpent about a month ago when their cat, Olive, found it outdoors and dropped it on the living room floor. The serpent was still alive and the family’s thoughtful 13-year-old, Avery Rogers, placed it in a plastic container and then immediately sent a message to her mother. The family was astonished to see a tiny, speckled serpent with two heads attached to the same body. It could move its eyes, neck, and tongue independently. They named the serpent “Dos”, which is Spanish for “two.”

snake

In the words of Kay Rogers, the cat’s owner, “His biggest problem is eating. We are trying lots of things, but he has trouble coordinating his two heads.” The snake’s unconventional two heads make it uncoordinated, where one head would see the food move towards it, but the other would pull away in the other direction.

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Dos was with them for about five days, after which the Rogers family transferred it to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “A rare two-headed southern black racer was recently found at a residence in Palm Harbor by Kay Rogers and family,’’ they disclosed in a Facebook post.

“It’s the first two-headed snake that I’ve personally seen, though I’ve observed it in turtles before,” says Florida Wildlife Conservation herpetologist Jonathan Mays. “We currently have the snake and are simply trying to keep it alive as it lacks the natural ability to feed on its own,” Mays stated. In case Dos is able to regain its strength, the research institute plans to incorporate it into reptile outreach programs. At the institute, Dos has been able to eat every couple of days and is now over a month old.

PIC BY JASON TALBOTT/CATERS NEWS – (PICTURED: A two-headed snake in Kansas.)
The unusual snake disease:

This uncommon abnormality is known as bicephaly, which occurs during embryonic development when identical twins fail to fully separate. This peculiar phenomenon isn’t unique to just snakes—bicephaly results in conjoined twins in humans. It’s rather difficult to estimate just how rare bicephaly is among wild snakes since they generally only survive for a few weeks, which makes it difficult for researchers to explore more.

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Such rare findings are not totally uncommon since just the previous year, a bicephalic baby rattlesnake named “Double-Dave” turned up in New Jersey. In 2018, a two-headed viper slithered onto a family’s property in Virginia and this year, it was the two-headed racer snake, Dos. It has been identified as a juvenile southern black racer (Coluber constrictor priapus) by the FWC.

Dos certainly has a better shot of survival under the care of FWC herpetologists than in the wild since it’s tougher for bicephalic species to survive where activities such as capturing food or escaping predators are more difficult to achieve because of their contrasting brains. In nature, life won’t be easy since two heads aren’t always better than one.

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For now, Dos is being cared for by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Protection Commission (FWC), which just took those spiffy headshots of the snake on Facebook. Experts have described Dos as a short, nonvenomous snake popular in Southeastern United States.

Further reading:

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Shreya Paul
Aiming for the stars!

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