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2-headed baby turtle thrives at Massachusetts wildlife center

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Posted at 1:16 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 12:30:26-04

A rare double-headed turtle is thriving at a Massachusetts wildlife center where the 2-week-old animal is being treated.

The Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center said on social media that the diamondback terrapin has two heads due to a condition called bicephaly, which they described as a "rare anomaly that can occur from both genetic and environmental factors that influence an embryo during development."

The six-legged turtle was brought to the wildlife center two weeks ago by the Barnstable Department of Natural Resources after they hatched at a protected nesting site.

The Associated Press reported that staff is feeding them blood worms and food pellets.

The staff said x-rays revealed the turtle has two spines that are fused further down the body.

"We have been observing them moving and swimming, showing they each have control of three legs," the staff said.

The staff said a barium study was done, and it revealed that they each have separate GIs.

"The right side appears to be slightly more developed, but they are eating and digesting food," the staff said. "A supervised deep water swim test showed that they can coordinate swimming so that they can come to the surface to breathe when needed."