A person’s yard was invaded by the first sea snake.pink

A rare two-headed southern brown egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis inornata) was recently discovered in the town of Ndwedwe, north of Durban, South Africa. The snake, about 0.3 meters long, was found in a garden and was safely relocated by snake rescuer Nick Evans.

The Discovery

A local man spotted the unusual snake in his garden and, concerned for its safety, placed it in a jar and called Evans. Evans described the snake as immature and interesting to watch, noting its unique movement patterns due to having two heads. The heads often attempted to move in opposite directions, but sometimes one head would rest on the other, which seemed to facilitate movement.

Polycephaly in Reptiles

The condition of having two heads, known as polycephaly, occurs more frequently in reptiles than in mammals. It typically results from incomplete division of an embryo or partial fusion of two separate embryos. Despite its rarity, polycephaly has been documented in various species, including snakes. For instance, a 2013 study in the journal Comparative Pathology found that out of 4,087 baby pit vipers, only three had two heads.

The two-headed southern brown egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis inornata) is rare. Photo: Nick Evans

Challenges for Two-Headed Snakes

Animals with polycephaly often face significant survival challenges. The degree of head separation affects their viability, with those having two stomachs potentially competing for food and those with one organ supporting two bodies experiencing excessive stress. This typically leads to a reduced lifespan. Two-headed snakes generally struggle in the wild due to their slow and inefficient movement, making them easy prey for predators.

Care and Prognosis

Evans confirmed that the two-headed southern brown egg-eating snake is now under professional care. He expressed surprise that the snake had survived until its discovery, given the typical difficulties such animals face. He emphasized that releasing a two-headed snake into the wild would not be beneficial due to its vulnerability and limited mobility.

By ensuring the snake received professional care, Evans contributed to the conservation and study of this rare and fascinating creature, highlighting the challenges and unique behaviors associated with polycephaly in reptiles.

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