two headed turtle

A Rare Turtle found in Birdsey Cape Wildlife

The little feeding tank in the well-lit exam room of the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center appears to harbor a couple of diamondback turtle hatchlings at first inspection. In Massachusetts, the animal is labeled as a threatened species.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that this turtle is more unusual; it was born with two heads and six legs, a condition known as bicephalic. Pria Patel, the center’s veterinarian, has been keeping an eye on the terrapin since it arrived two weeks ago, and it’s doing well so far.

As reported by Live Science, the turtle has two separate gastrointestinal tracts to feed both sides. For coming to the surface to breathe, the heads work independently. The center’s staff reports that the animals are eating well, especially blood worms and meal pellets.

Two Haded Turtle

Species to be monitored closely

The animal came from a “head start” nest at West Barnstable’s Sandy Neck. Researchers move a “head start” nest since it is in a perilous place. Once the eggs hatch, the animals are taken to a variety of locations to be cared for over the winter before being released in late April.

This rare species will be monitored closely, and when it reaches the age of four weeks, the Center’s staff intends to obtain a CT scan to understand more about the animal’s circulatory system of the two young terrapins who share one shell.


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