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Rare 2-headed snake found at Florida home

Posted at 7:00 AM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 11:55:30-04

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — A rare two-headed southern black racer snake was recently found at a home in Palm Harbor.

Kay Rogers said her cat brought the snake into the home through the doggy door. The cat placed the snake on the carpet.

"She brings us presents all the time. This day, my daughter sent me a message. 'Mom, she brought in a snake, and it has two heads,'" Rogers saif. "I think this tops it, but she's an adventurous cat for sure."

Rogers said her 13-year-old daughter, Avery, placed the snake in a plastic container. She said her daughter and her son like learning about reptiles.

"We went and got like a habitat setup for it. I was talking to a couple different reptile specialists and they were kind of helping me through what to do with him like getting him a heating pad and trying to feed him," Rogers said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shared the story on Facebook. FWC said the phenomenon, bicephaly, is uncommon, but happens during embryo development when two monozygotic twins failed to separate, leaving the heads conjoined onto a single body.

FWC says that both heads' tongue flicks and react to movement, but not always in the same way. Two-headed snakes are unlikely to survive in the wild, as the two brains make different decisions that inhibit the ability to feed or escape from predators.

"Because of the two head thing, he's very uncoordinated and couldn't get to the food very well. It was like one head would see the food and try to go for it, the other would be going the other way and pulling him back," Rogers said.

The snake is currently being cared for and monitored by FWC staff.

"He was really an easy pet," Rogers said. I really just wanted to kind of see him thrive and have people that would take care of him and give him the best chance. I know, well my daughter's research shows they don't live well in the wild at all. I know captivity was the best hope for him."

This story was originally published by Dan Trujillo on WFTS in Tampa, Florida.