Nature never ceases to surprise. Just take a look at this double-headed snake that turned up in South Africa recently. 

Image © Nick Evans
Image © Nick Evans

A man from Ndwedwe, 60km north of the coastal city of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province, recently came across this two-headed egg-eater in his garden and quickly scooped it into a jar to avoid anyone harming it. He then contacted local snake rescuer, Nick Evans, to remove the rare reptile.

Image © Nick Evans
Image © Nick Evans

In all the years Evans has worked with snakes, this marked the first time he'd come across a two-headed one. As someone with a lifelong passion for reptiles, he jumped at the opportunity to retrieve the unusual animal. After collecting the snake, Evans was able to quickly identify it as a harmless southern brown egg-eater (albeit, an egg-eater with an extra head).

Evans was fascinated by the snake and described the unusual way it moved in a Facebook post: "Sometimes, the heads would try go in opposite directions from one another, other times, it would rest one head on the other. That seemed the most effective way of moving.” Evans noticed that the snake moved very slowly and would most likely not survive in the wild. He decided to hand the young egg-eater over to professionals who could monitor and care for it.

Two-headed snakes are not unheard off, but they're most certainly not common. Previous studies indicate that each head likely has its own functioning brain similar to conjoined twins. Essentially, they are two separate snakes sharing a single body, which can make life very difficult for reptiles with this deformity. Scientific observations have shown that sometimes one snake becomes more dominant and the second snake simply tags along. Having two separate brains also means they get alerted separately when hunger kicks in, meaning they dine separately. As you can imagine, this causes potential choking hazards and is most likely problematic when catching prey (if they are even able to do that).

Life certainly isn’t easy for two-headed snakes and their chances of survival in the wild are slim. Two heads, in this case, are not better than one and it remains to be seen if the egg-eater will learn to live with its deformity.