Rare two-headed snake rescued from Kalyan
Experts said the growth of the two heads was a genetic abnormality similar to conjoined or Siamese twins in humans.Updated: Aug 08, 2020 17:04 IST
A rare two-headed Russell’s Viper was rescued from Kalyan’s Gandhare Road area on Thursday. Experts said the growth of the two heads was a genetic abnormality similar to conjoined or Siamese twins in humans. These snakes have very low survival rates in the wild. The forest department will hand over the snake to the Haffkine Institute in Parel.
The snake is 11cm long, with the two heads measuring 2cm each, while the width of the snake is 1cm. Russell’s Viper is one of the top four venomous snakes in India.
On September 20 last year, the same snake species with two heads was found from the same area in Kalyan.
On Thursday around 2pm, Kalyan resident Dimple Shah called the local snake rescuers after spotting the Russel’s Viper outside her building, Rutu Riverside Estate on Gandhare Road. Prem Aher and Nilesh Navsare from the War Rescue Foundation (WRF) then rescued the snake in the next couple of hours.
“There are four documentations of the two-headed Russell’s Viper from India, of which two were from Kalyan,” said Yogesh Kamble, president, WRF.
WRF then informed forest department about the snake.
“As these species have a low survival rate owing to possible genetic modifications, the previous snake had died. However, this snake, currently at the Kalyan range office, looks much better,” said Jitendra Ramgaokar, deputy conservator of forest (Thane).
Experts said the abnormality takes place during birth.
“We found developmental defects in the previous two-headed snake, including an abnormally developed digestive tract, which may have led to its death,” said Dr Nishigandha Naik, former director, Haffkine.
According to herpetologist Varad Giri, who is the director at NIDUS – an organisation working on research on amphibians and reptiles – a developing embryo in its early stage divides.
“The reason for this division is not known. After some time the division stops, leading to two heads. There are characteristic issues where two brains and one body fight for food and freedom, creating complications for survival,” said Giri.
Romulus Whitaker, founder of Madras Crocodile Bank said that little is known about this environmental genetic anomaly owing to the lack of research available.
“There are different kinds of snakes with two heads identified across the world and India. Some have been known to survive in captivity for almost 20 years. Those ensuring their survival have had to put a barrier between the two heads to ensure they don’t fight for food,” said Whitaker.