A rare two-headed rat snake is coming up on its 17th birthday, an incredible feat for something scientists thought wouldn’t make it. The odds of a two-headed snake living this long are about one in 100 million.
The snake arrived at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center in 2005 after it was first found in Missouri. The black rat snake is a nonvenomous constrictor-type species.
Throughout the 17 years at the nature center, the snake has remained nameless. Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) media specialist Josh Hartwig explained: “We don’t name critters at the nature center, since we still consider them wild.”
When feeding the creature, both heads of the snake are fed independently despite sharing the same stomach. The snake does have difficulty swallowing, which is normal since there’s twice the amount of food heading down the same hole. This is an added difficulty since full-grown snakes will tend to eat full-sized mice, whereas this snake must be fed smaller prey.
Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) naturalist Alex Holmes explained that one of the sisters appears to be more dominant than the other. As he points out, the dominant head “seems to drag her sister around.” The snake does have two brains and as with most living things, one side will eventually become the leader.