I’ve barely mentioned it but last month I stumbled across a snake eating a pigeon on Leytonstone High Road.
It was no big deal, just went viral, picked up by the international press, got interviewed for BBC Breakfast News, inspired a Telegraphpolitical cartoon - as I say, no big deal.
But, reluctantly, it seems I have been anointed as one of Britain’s premier snake experts (snakespert? Hmmm maybe not) so it falls to me to report another rather unusual snake encounter.
A woman in northern Virginia has discovered an extremely rare baby copperhead snake in her neighbour’s yard (so, probably wasn’t expecting to see a snake but just stumbled across it, sounds just like my experience since you ask, honestly it’s not what I was expecting to see at all - a snake? In Leytonstone? Eating a pigeon? Incredible. I don’t like to go on about it but really, it did go viral so it must have been quite unusual) - which had not one, but two heads.
The quick-thinking lady reported it to Virginia Wildlife Management & Control who picked it up, with the animal now in the hands of an unnamed experienced private reptile keeper.
J.D. Kleopfer, a specialist from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been posting on Facebook about the little fella, which is less than two weeks old and about 8” long, saying:
“Wild bicephalic snakes are exceptionally rare, because they just don’t live that long. Too many challenges living day to day with two heads.
“Thanks to the Wildlife Center of Virginia we were able to determine that the left head has the dominant esophagus and the right head has the more developed throat for eating. With a little luck and care, we hope to eventually donate it to a zoological facility for exhibit. It’s currently being cared for by a private reptile keeper with lots of experience in breeding and rearing vipers.”
He’s also posted a video of the animal in action. Prepare yourselves.
In case you were wondering (and you were), Kleopfer clarified that: “They [the heads] both appear to be capable of biting.”
However, don’t be too worried - the snakes aren’t considered aggressive, and the venom is rarely lethal, with the animals often employing a ‘warning bite’ , where they inject a relatively small about of venom, or even none at all.
It seems that the snake was lucky to be found, since Kleopfer commented that, the animal had, “No chance in the wild, but we’re hopefully that it’ll survive in captivity.”
He also added that, “With a little luck and care, we hope to eventually donate it to a zoological facility for exhibit.”
It’s a good find, but really, can you imagine if someone had found it eating two pigeons? Now that really would have been a story.
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(Images: Getty/J.D. Kleopfer/Wildlife Center of Virginia)