A rare discovery was made in northern Virginia this month when a two-headed baby copperhead slithered in the yard of a resident.
The unnamed person who found the snake contacted the Virginia Herpetological Society for identification and a state herpetologist picked it up to study.
“Wild bicephalic snakes are exceptionally rare, because they just don’t live that long,” J.D. Kleopfer of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries posted on Facebook on Thursday. “Too many challenges living day to day with two heads.”
The baby Eastern Copperhead was taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro for radiographs so officials could determine how both the heads functioned with the body.
The wildlife center found that the left head of the snake is more dominant, showing more activity and responsiveness to stimuli, but the snake has two tracheas, two esophaguses, but one heart and one set of lungs.
Based on the snake’s anatomy, wildlife center officials said it would be better for the right head to eat, but the left head tends to handle that as the more dominant head.
According to the center, two-headed snakes found in the wild are extremely rare and usually do not live long. If this one survives. it will likely be donated to a zoo for an educational exhibit.
The baby copperhead is no longer at the Wildlife Center and is being cared for by state herpetologists. It’s not available for public viewing.
Photos and video of the snake went viral on Facebook after Powhatan-based animal removal business Virginia Wildlife Management and Control shared them earlier this month.
For the time-being, the snake will remain at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.