When a family found this rare two-headed snake in Missouri a few years ago, they gave her a name (or names, depending on how you look at it).
Tiger-Lily, or Tiger and Lily.
She was discovered in Stone County, in the southwest part of the state, in fall 2017, and is now under the care of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center in Branson. She is “doing well,” according to a news release from the department.
“The snake is now around 48 inches long, sheds on a regular basis, and is growing at a steady rate,” MDC Interpretive Center Manager Alison Bleich said in the news release. She’s actually getting ready for another round of shedding. That’s why her two sets of eyes appear glazed over in the photo.
And soon, she’ll be the center of attention at a birthday party in her honor.
The “unique” two-headed snake does eat from both mouths, officials said, which can make feeding a little challenging.
“We have to keep the heads separate when they are eating,” Bleich said. “Since they share the same throat, it wouldn’t be good for them to both eat a mouse at once or to try to swallow the same mouse.”
That’s one of many reasons why a two-headed snake would have quite the challenge surviving on its own in the wild.
“A two-headed snake would also be extremely vulnerable to predation because it wouldn’t have the ability to escape into the normal holes and crevices that one-headed snakes can fit into,” the release says. “However, in a captive situation, a two-headed snake’s chances of survival are much better.”
To celebrate Tiger-Lily’s survival, wildlife officials are hosting her a birthday party on Saturday, Oct. 2, and invite the public to join them for crafts, trivia, party favors and a presentation featuring Tiger-Lily.
The party will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, according to a news release, and no registrations are required. The event will mostly take place outside, and there is a limit on how many people allowed inside. Social distancing and face masks are recommended for party-goers.
To learn more about the event, contact the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center at 417-334-4865, ext. 0. The center is on the west end of Lake Taneycomo near Branson.
Tiger-Lily isn’t the only two-headed snake who has recently made the news for a birthday celebration.
Earlier this month, McClatchy News reported that a different two-headed snake in Missouri was celebrating its 16th birthday with a “Ssssweet Sssixteen” party.
But that doesn’t mean these snakes are common.
Conjoined snakes like this two-headed western black rat snake are born in about one in every 100,000 births, naturalist Alex Holmes said before the 16th birthday party.