Rare, two-headed rattlesnake rescued from a doomed fate in New Jersey

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • A rare baby rattlesnake with two heads named Double-Dave was found slithering in a forest area in New Jersey.
  • Named after the two herpetologists whose names are both Dave, the snake is bicephalic — meaning, it has two independent heads leading to one shared body.
  • Knowing that bicephalic animals rarely survive in the wild and are often in danger against predators, the two Daves decided to take the snake under their care.

Two New Jersey herpetologists — both named Dave — found a rare, double-headed snake in a heavily forested area across the southern part of the state. They named it Double-Dave.

Double-Dave is a few weeks-old baby rattlesnake and about 9 inches (23 centimeters) long, ABC News reports. The critter was discovered by herpetologists Dave Schneider and Dave Burkett of Herpetological Associates in Pemberton, New Jersey, while they were inspecting the nearby Pine Barrens.

Photo Credit: Bob Zappalorti/Herpetological Associates
Photo Credit: Bob Zappalorti/Herpetological Associates

Double-Dave is also bicephalic, meaning he is born with two independent heads sharing only one body. Bicephalic animals rarely reach maturity in the wild; a constant battle of wills such as decisions whether to slither left or right, or which head eats first, leave them particularly vulnerable to predators. The two Daves then decided to bring the young snake back to their office and care for it.

It looks like Double-Dave is so far getting along with himself in his new home.

“It appears the head on the right side is the more dominant one, but every once in a while, the other head will want to go in a different direction,” Schneider told ABC News. Although the snake looks healthy, Schneider and his colleagues plan to do an X-ray on Double-Dave to check if he has a fully developed digestive system.

Though bicephalic animals like Double-Dave are unusual, cases of two-headed creatures are born more often than you think. Last September, a two-headed viper spotted crawling around a Virginia residential garden was shown in X-rays to have two tracheas and two esophagi connected to a shared heart and set of lungs.

Prior to that, a dead two-headed deer was discovered in the backwoods of Minnesota, while in 2017, a two-headed porpoise was drawn up from the North Sea. These bicephalic creatures have even reached outer space. While riding aboard the International Space Station last year, a flatworm grew a second head on its butt.

 

Source: Live Science

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