It’s extremely rare for a snake to have two heads, but that’s exactly what Joshua Marshall found in Nebraska. This two-headed snake was found in the small town of Clay Center, Nebraska, and its head keep trying to go in opposite directions.
Marshall was cleaning his girlfriend’s garden recently when when he lifted up a log near her fire pit. Underneath the log, he saw two garter snakes, or so he thought. Upon a closer look, he found that it was two heads connected to one body.
Garter snakes are non-venomous snakes. They eat small rodents, fish, invertebrates, and amphibians. They’re native to North and Central America. They’re extremely common across the continent.
However, two-headed snakes remain extremely rare. The phenomenon occcurs when a snake embryo begins to split, but not fully, causing the reptile to develop two heads that are independent of each other attached to one body.
It could also be due to aggregation mating. This occurs when two sperm hit an egg at the same time.
“It took me a second, but then I realized it was two heads on one snake,” Marshall told the Lincoln Journal Star. He carefully scooped the rare snake into a jar.
The couple knew exactly how to reach the local Nebraska Game and Parks conservation officer because his girlfriend serves as a Clay County dispatcher, and they referred him to the University of Nebraska.
Man Donates Two-Headed Snake to Local University for Research
“I called him, and he said, ‘I don’t want it, but I’m going to bet that UNL [the University of Nebraska–Lincoln] does,'” Marshall said.
In a Facebook post, he wrote the snake was collected that evening by Dennis Ferraro. Ferraro is a herpetologist from the UNL Department of Natural Resources. At the time, he was traveling back home to Lincoln from a field trip.
“I should add it was alive and well when turned over,” Marshall added.
Ferraro told the Journal Star how rare the snake was. He has only seen a similar specimen a few times in his more than forty years. This snake was only 10 days old. Ferraro added that it probably would not have survived in the wild.
This reptile was rarer still. Its mutation caused two distinct necks, while most two-headed snakes usually share one.
“Each head is acting independently,” Ferraro said. “But it’s not really moving very much, because one head starts to go one way, and the other head starts to go the other way, and it’s a draw.”
The garter snake will be used for research and education at UNL. When it dies, the snake will be preserved for research. Clay Center, Nebraska is located about an hour and a half outside of Lincoln, where the University of Nebraska is located.