MDC to hold birthday party for two-headed snake Oct. 7 at Henning Conservation Area
BRANSON, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center is having a unique event for a unique reptile.
From 9 a.m.-noon on Oct. 7, MDC will hold a birthday party for the two-headed western ratsnake that has been on display at the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center. The conservation center, which is part of MDC’s Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery complex, is currently closed for construction, but that hasn’t dampened party plans for the facility’s best-known reptile.
The birthday party for the two-headed snake will be in the Scenic Overlook parking lot of MDC’s Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area which is located on Highway 76/376 on the west side of Branson. Birthday festivities for “Tiger-Lily” – the name given to the two-headed snake by the family that found it – will include crafts, party favors, and presentations with the snake.
The snake, a female, was found in Stone County in the fall of 2017 and was donated to the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center for display purposes. Tiger-Lily is almost five feet long and has a healthy appetite according to MDC Interpretive Center Manager Alison Bleich, although feeding time always present a challenge.
“Both heads want to eat, but they only have one esophagus,” Bleich said. “We put a small cup over one head while the other eats, then switch. Otherwise, both would be trying to grab the same mouse.”
Eating is just one of a multitude of struggles facing a polycephalous (two-headed) animal. If it was in the wild, in addition to eating problems, 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.
However, in a captive situation, a two-headed snake’s chances of survival are much better. A two-headed western ratsnake that was found in 2005 is currently on display at MDC’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center in in southeast Missouri.
No registration is required for the Oct 7 birthday event. People can learn more about this special day at:
Though the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center is currently closed for construction, staff are still providing public programs. People can stay informed about upcoming programs put on by Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center and other nearby MDC facilities by signing up for text alerts and e-mail bulletins. People who have questions about how to sign up for text alerts from the Shepherd of the Hills or who want information about upcoming events can call 417-334-4865, ext. 0.
Staff at MDC facilities across the state are holding virtual programs. A listing of these programs can be found at mdc.mo.gov/events.