On this month's Oddities in the News Page:

Two-headed snake has a 16-year birthday at Missouri Nature Center


Cricket Farm
Mummy Scan
Roswell in the News Again
Weird Things Animals Ate
Dogs Smell Covid

Two-headed snake turning 'sweet 16' at Missouri center


By Ben Hooper

UPI, September 2, 2021 -- A Missouri nature center is throwing a "sweet 16" birthday party for one of its most unusual resident animals: a two-headed snake.

The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, which is operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the female black rat snake, which has two heads with fully functional brains, turned 16 and visitors were invited to join the celebration.

Alex Holmes, a naturalist with the MDC, said rat snakes typically live about 10 years in the wild, and conjoined twins usually live for far fewer years because their body's lack of dominant leadership makes them an easy target for predators.

"Having two heads or being conjoined twins as they are happens in nature, happens in any kind of species," Jamie Koehler, assistant manager of the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, told WSIL-TV. "It's just typical that she wouldn't have survived out in the wild because someone would have her for breakfast or lunch."

The birthday party, which lasted from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, featured crafts, games and cake for visitors.

"Black rat snakes are actually called that because a main part of their diet is eating mice, rats, voles, moles shrews," she said. "Things they can find in our yard which could be a vector of disease for us, so they actually help us out in a lot of different ways."

See a video of the snake HERE

When a snake has two heads, it can't make decisions because it has two separate individual brains


The two-headed monsters of myth may have a basis in reality. Two-headed snakes are rare but not unheard of, and one recently found in Spain is giving scientists an opportunity to study how the anomaly affects their ability to hunt and mate.

"We hear of one every several years," said Gordon Burghardt, a herpetologist at the University of Tennessee who has studied several two-headed snakes.

The snake in Spain, discovered near the village of Pinoso, is a two-month-old non-venomous ladder snake Elaphe scalaris. It is about eight inches (20 centimeters) long.

It's probably lucky it was captured—its chances of surviving in the wild are nil, said Burghardt.

"Just watching them feed, often fighting over which head will swallow the prey, shows that feeding takes a good deal of time, during which they would be highly vulnerable to predators," said Burghardt. "They also have a great deal of difficulty deciding which direction to go, and if they had to respond to an attack quickly they would just not be capable of it."

And that's assuming that both heads are hungry at the same time, and both are interested in pursuing the same prey.

"Having two heads would be a hindrance in the wild," agreed James Badman of Arizona State University. "It would be much harder to catch prey." Arizona State was home to a two-headed king snake that was found as a baby. It lived for nearly 17 years in captivity at the university.

Even in captivity, there are problems. Snakes operate a good deal by smell, and if one head catches the scent of prey on the other's head, it will attack and try to swallow the second head.

See more HERE

Instances of other animals born with two heads