Twice As Nice: Double-Headed Turtle Is Loving Life at Cape Cod Wildlife Center

·2 min read
two-headed turtle
two-headed turtle

Courtesy of Cape Wildlife Center

Twice as nice when it comes to this new arrival at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center: a double-headed turtle.

Yup, the tiny little diamondback terrapin hatchling was born with two heads, the center wrote on Facebook. And since they joined the center a few weeks ago, they seem to be doing great! It's not always guaranteed, but the "bright and active" pair is swimming, eating, and putting on weight each day, the center says.

"It is impossible to get inside the heads of these two, but it appears that they work together to navigate their environment," the center, located on Massachusetts' Cape Cod, wrote.

Bicephaly caused them to have two heads—and six legs. It's rare, and it occurs when genetic and environmental factors affect the embryo, the wildlife center said. The terrapin was born in nearby Barnstable before arriving at the wildlife center.

That's where researchers are learning a bunch about their new friends. X-rays showed two spines that fuse together farther away from their heads. Each head has control of three legs, but they can work together to come up to the surface when needed. A barium test showed they each have a gastrointestinal system. The right side seems to be more developed, the center says.

When they get a little bigger, a CT scan will reveal even more about their internal systems, the center wrote.

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Diamondback terrapins, the official reptile of the state of Maryland, can appear green, brown, gray, or black. They'll grow to be about 9 inches in length, though the female turtles are larger. They're found in the eastern United States.

Here's hoping our new buddies keep on working together for years to come.