Meet the Two-Headed Snake With Two Different Personalities
A North Carolina man who has experience raising snakes recently welcomed a two-headed Honduran albino milk snake named Gemini to the world.
Jimmy Mabe told CBS affiliate WGHP in High Point that the snake has two different personalities and one appears to be more dominant than the other.
"The right side is a little more aggressive than the left," Mabe said. "So it wants to bite me more."
Jeff Beane, the collections manager for herpetology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, told Newsweek he has seen a few two-headed snakes, but it is a relatively rare phenomenon.
"They typically behave differently because they have different brains," Beane said. "One is more dominant than the other."
He added that one head is a better feeder than the other.
Despite their differences, Beane said, the two heads rarely become aggressive with each other.
"There's not much they can do to one another except try to crawl in different directions or feed on the same thing," he said.
Snakes born with two heads generally do not survive very long in the wild, and even if it is raised in captivity, a two-headed snake has a shorter lifespan than a snake with just one head.
Honduran milk snakes, according to the Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana, are typically found under rotting logs or stumps. They eat other snakes, lizards and small mammals, though they are non-venomous.
"They use quick, jerky movements so that their bands flash, startling predators," the zoo said.
Mabe's wife, Tammy, told Newsweek her husband bred snakes for more than 30 years, and she's grown to love the process.
Although they've seen two-headed snakes at expos, they've never bred a snake with two heads themselves.
"We've seen this happen, but it is very rare," Tammy said. "The rarest part is if they make it out of the egg alive."
She said Gemini was the last of about 400 eggs to hatch this year. Jimmy, Tammy said, had a feeling they'd get a set of twins, but they both didn't expect a two-headed snake to join the family.
Since Gemini hatched, Tammy said she's been eating well. Each head takes a turn feeding so they both have the chance to experience the sensation of eating.
Echoing Jimmy's sentiment about their dueling personalities, Tammy said the right head has more of the dominant personality but said neither head is "mean."
Mabe told WGHP that Gemini shares a set of lungs and a stomach, but their brains don't always agree.
"They do have a different mind to go in a different direction than the other," Mabe said. "They can't always be fighting over which way to go."
Looking back on the experience, Tammy said she hopes Gemini will continue to live a healthy life without any issues.
"It'd be cool to let her grow up and watch her," Tammy said.
Though an unusual phenomenon, this is not the first time an animal has been born with two heads.
A two-headed baby African spurred tortoise was born and is expected to live a healthy life. It was born with two heads, four front legs and one set of internal organs.
A Nebraska man was doing yard work, and when he lifted a log near a fire pit, he was shocked to discover a garter snake with two heads. He reached out to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and turned over the snake to a herpetologist who works in the college's department of natural resources.
Another two-headed snake was found in the wild. A snake rescuer was asked to take the snake from a man who found it in his garden.