Rare two-headed snake Tiger-Lily to visit MDC’s Burr Oak Woods Nature Center this summer

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Kansas City
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) famous two-headed snake is traveling to the Kansas City-area on her statewide tour.

Tiger-Lily, a two-headed western rat snake, will arrive at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs on Saturday, June 1. The snake will remain there for visitors to see until July 31. From there, Tiger-Lily will travel to Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City.

Tiger-Lily is on loan from her home at the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center near Branson, which is currently closed for construction.

Western rat snakes are non-venomous and native to Missouri. Tiger-Lily is a pair of conjoined identical snake twins that were never completely separated. Two-headed snakes have a low survival rate.

“Tiger-Lily" is the name given to the snake by the family who found this unique reptile in Stone County in 2017. The female snake was donated to the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center for display purposes. Tiger-Lily is nearly five-feet long and has a healthy appetite, but feeding a snake with two heads presents a challenge.

“Both heads want to eat, but they share one esophagus,” said MDC Interpretive Center Manager Alison Bleich. “Staff will put a small cup over one head while the other eats, then switch. Otherwise, both heads would try to grab the same mouse.”

Eating is just one of a multitude of struggles facing a polycephalous (two-headed) animal. If it were in the wild, a two-headed snake would be vulnerable to predation because it wouldn’t have the ability to escape into the normal holes and crevices that one-headed snakes fit into.

However, in captivity, a two-headed snake’s chances of survival are much better. Another two-headed western rat snake found in 2005 is currently on display at MDC’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center in southeast Missouri.

“We encourage visitors to come to Burr Oak Woods Nature Center this summer to view Tiger-Lily, as well as our other snakes, fish, and turtles,” said Burr Oak Woods Assistant Manager Stephanie Kemp.

MDC’s Burr Oak Woods Nature Center is located at 1401 NW Park Road in Blue Springs. For more information about the nature center, visit https://mdc.mo.gov/burroakwoods.