The snake has grown to nearly five feet in length in those six years, and likes to eat.
Tiger-Lily, the resident two-headed Western rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus) at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center will celebrate her birthday at the center October 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The female snake was found in the wild by a family in southwest Missouri about six years ago. The family named the snake and then brought it to the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. The snake has grown to nearly five feet in length in those six years, and apparently likes to eat. But because she has only one esophagus, the folks who feed her put a cup over one head while the other eats, and then they switch and feed the other head.
The department has another two-headed western rat snake on display at the MDC’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center in southeast Missouri. Tiger-lily is more than 4 feet in length and is growing at a steady rate. She sheds on a regular basis.
“A two-headed snake would also be extremely vulnerable to predation because it wouldn’t have the ability to escape into the normal holes and crevices that one-headed snakes can fit into,” the department said in a news release. “However, in a captive situation, a two-headed snake’s chances of survival are much better.”
Western Rat Snake Information
The Western rat snake is also known as the black rat snake and is found in central North America west of the Mississippi River. They are diurnal and can be found in a range of habitats, including prairies, rock outcrops, wooded areas and bayous. They can grow to about six feet in length. They are widely captive bred and can live more than 15 years in captivity.
Two-headed Snake Information
Two-headed snakes are rare but not uncommon. They are said to live a shortened life in the wild due to the fact that they have two heads, which may inhibit their defenses when faced by predators. Cases of captive-born two-headed snakes occur almost every year. They are definitely cool snakes. Nicolas Cage is reported to have purchased a two-headed snake gopher snake for $80,000. That snake, named after the Batman villain Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face, was donated in 2008 to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Harvey died at the zoo at age 14.