MDC's Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery to hold birthday party Oct. 2 for two-headed snake

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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 10 a.m.-noon on Oct. 2, MDC will hold a birthday party for the two-headed western ratsnake that is on display in the facility’s auditorium. The snake, a female, was found in Stone County in the fall of 2017 and is doing well according to MDC Interpretive Center Manager Alison Bleich.

“Tiger-Lily has grown quite a bit in the past two years,” Bleich said. “The snake is now around 48 inches long, sheds on a regular basis, and is growing at a steady rate..”

Birthday festivities for “Tiger” and “Lily” – the names given to the two-headed snake by the family that found it – will include crafts, trivia, party favors, and presentations with Tiger and Lily. Bleich said having two heads and only one body makes feeding a challenge.

“We have to keep the heads separate when they are eating,” she 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.”

Eating is just one of a multitude of problems facing a polycephalous (two-headed) animal. 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 2 birthday event. COVID-19 precautions will be in place. Most of the event will occur outside and the number of people inside the building will be limited. Attendees will be encouraged to social distance and wear facemasks.

To find out more about this event or other events at the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center, call 417-334-4865, ext. 0. The Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center is part of MDC’s Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery and is located at 483 Hatchery Road on the west end of Lake Taneycomo near Branson.