It is hoped that the venomous reptile can eventually be put on display at a zoo.
A very rare two-headed copperhead snake (Agkistrodon contortrix) was found in a woman's flowerbed in Northern Virginia and it is hoped that the reptile survives and can be eventually placed on exhibit. The snake, which is estimated to be about two weeks old, and about six inches in length. It is rare and would most likely not survive in the wild, so the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries enlisted the help of an experienced viper keeper who will raise the reptile.
JD Kleopfer/Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
This two-headed copperhead snake was found in Virginia, and is currently in the care of a reptilekeeper who specializes in venomous snakes.
"This two-headed copperhead was found in northern Virginia. Wild bicephalic snakes are exceptionally rare, because they just don’t live that long. Too many challenges living day to day with two heads," JD Kleopfer, a herpetologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, wrote on Facebook.
Posted by JD Kleopfer on Thursday, September 20, 2018
"Thanks to the Wildlife Center of Virginia we were able to determine that the left head has the dominant esophagus and the right head has the more developed throat for eating. With a little luck and care, we hope to eventually donate it to a zoological facility for exhibit. It’s currently being cared for by a private reptile keeper with lots of experience in breeding and rearing vipers."
"Radiographs revealed that the two-headed snake has two tracheas (the left one is more developed), two esophaguses (the right one is more developed), and the two heads share one heart and one set of lungs," the Wildlife Center of Virginia said in a statement released to the media. "Based on the anatomy, it would be better for the right head to eat, but it may be a challenge since the left head appears more dominant."
Copperhead snakes are common throughout much of the Eastern Seaboard, from Southern New England to Maryland and westward to northern Alabama and southern Illinois. The snake grows to about 2½ feet in length and sometimes reach 4 feet. They live from 12-20 years and feed on ground dwelling birds, small rodents, amphibians and lizards. It is a venomous species and has been documented to reproduce via parthenogenesis, a process whereby a female animal gives birth without having her eggs fertilized by a male.