Six years ago, a family in southwest Missouri stumbled across a two-headed snake.
They gave the rare creature a name — Tiger-Lily, or Tiger and Lily — then donated the female snake to the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center in Branson, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
And while the western ratsnake would have struggled to survive in the wild, Tiger-Lily has continued to grow in captivity, officials said in a Sept. 29 news release.
She’s almost 5 feet long, having grown about a foot in two years, according to state wildlife officials. And that could be because she really likes to eat.
But feeding time isn’t easy, officials said.
“Both heads want to eat, but they only have one esophagus,” Interpretive Center Manager Alison Bleich said in the release. “We put a small cup over one head while the other eats, then switch. Otherwise, both would be trying to grab the same mouse.”
Those who want to meet this rare reptile can do so at her upcoming birthday party.
The Missouri Department of Conservation is hosting her sixth birthday from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Scenic Overlook at the Ruth & Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson. No registration is necessary.
While rare, Tiger-Lily isn’t the only two-headed western ratsnake in captivity in Missouri.
Another two-headed snake found in 2005 is on display at Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center in southeast Missouri, according to the release. The snake is 18 years old.
Conjoined snakes are born in about one in every 100,000 births, naturalist Alex Holmes said in a 2021 news release.
“In the wild, those that survive probably wouldn’t be able to escape predators due to their body’s lack of dominate leadership,” Holmes said at the time.