By Madeline Farber
Published September 05, 2019
The reptile was found in a nest where a timber rattlesnake recently gave birth.
Bob Zappalorti, the CEO of the Herpetological Associates of Burlington County, an environmental consulting company that studies endangered reptiles and birds, among other animals, told the news outlet the snake “probably wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild.”
“As it was crawling, there’s a chance it could have gotten snagged on something, leaving it open to be eaten by predators,” he added.
Zappalorti, who claims this is the first time a two-headed timber rattlesnake has ever been found in the state, said the snake has two brains and each head acts independently of the other.
“It probably was meant to be a twin and it mutated and the female gave birth to this abnormal baby,” he told NJ Advance Media.
Herpetological Associates is caring for the rattler.
Two-headed snakes are rare and typically do not survive for long in the wild, according to National Geographic. The rare genetic abnormality can hinder the snake’s ability to catch prey.
“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,” National Geographic explained, adding two-head snakes develop similarly to Siamese twins when an embryo does not properly split into two.
The news comes after a two-headed turtle hatchling was found on Hilton Head Island, S.C. on Wednesday.