Rare Two-Headed Snake on Display at Shepherd of the Hills

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BRANSON, Mo. – Snakes in Missouri are pretty common. But the one on display at the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery could be a once in a lifetime sight to see.   This black rat snake was born with two heads. It’s a rare phenomenon that happens inside the pregnant mother snake, kind of like human Siamese twins. The egg of the unborn snake splits. But instead of eventually forming two babies, it somehow stops, creating two connected babies.  John Miller, interpretive manager at the Hatchery says being in captivity is a blessing for this snake, because it wouldn’t’t survive long in the wild. “Number one, if they had to escape from a predator, which hawks and owls are their biggest predator, they may go two different directions and end up not going any direction.”  Miller says the snakes eat small mice and often bird eggs – which explains why the snake is often called  “chicken snakes.”  Miller added that another two headed Black Rat Snake was found in Southeast Missouri about 12 years ago, but  he’s only seen three in 30 years.  Edgar Anselmo Cruz is from Guatemala. He stopped by the hatchery with some friends. “This was the first time we got to see a snake with two heads. It’s pretty cool.”Miller says black rat snakes can live up to 30 years in captivity. The longest lifespan on record for this snake is 33 years.    


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