Florida wildlife officials are caring for a rare two-headed snake after a family found the strange reptile in Palm Harbor.
The southern black racer is bicephalic, meaning it has two heads, likely as a result of two monozygotic twins failing to separate during embryo development, according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The subdivision of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted about the exceptional animal on its Facebook page Wednesday.
“Two-headed snakes are unlikely to survive in the wild as the two brains make different decisions that inhibit the ability to feed or escape from predators,” the research institute wrote.
Both heads of the snake are capable of flicking tongues and each head reacts to movement, but not always in the same way, sometimes responding to stimuli differently.
Black racers are non-venomous snakes that are common to the state of Florida. Young members of the species don’t quite fit their moniker, with bodies that are more gray with reddish-brown spots, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Adult black racers are actually black in color, with white markings on its chin and throat. A bite from these snakes, often found in residential areas in Florida, is relatively harmless though undoubtedly unpleasant.