Durban – The two-headed southern brown egg-eater snake now named Jean-Claude van Egg-eater, but goes by Jean-Claude, has found a permanent home at the Dangerous Creatures exhibit hall in the Village at uShaka Marine World.
The announcement was made by the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (Saambr) on Wednesday afternoon after sharing a video of Jean-Claude, a bicephaly, because of his two-heads.
Saambr vet Dr Francois Lampen said: “The radiograph images show clearly that the two spines are fusing. It would then be safe to assume that the two heads share most of the organs, such as the stomach and lungs. The left neck/head is 33mm long, and the right neck/head is 37mm long. The radiographs show the lungs clearly, but it is also obvious that the spinal cord is still very soft and cartilaginous, which is normal for a juvenile. No clear pathology is evident.”
Saambr’s Ann Kunz said Jean-Claude, a tiny two-headed southern brown egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis inornata) that found sanctuary at Dangerous Creatures, is now on display.
Kunz said the unusual snake was affectionately named Jean-Claude by the Saambr herpetologists.
“The phenomena of two-headed snakes and other animals are known as bicephaly or dicephaly,” Kunz said.
“This can occur when twin embryos fail to separate completely. In humans, this phenomenon is referred to as conjoined twins. Although uncommon, this phenomenon has been seen in a number of other animals, such as sharks, deer, turtles and kittens.”
Kunz said Jean-Claude was rescued by snake rescuer Nick Evans in response to a call from a resident just north of Durban.
She said as it was clear to Nick that the newly hatched snake had virtually no chance of surviving on its own, he brought Jean-Claude to Saambr, where he was offered a permanent home.
“We have not yet offered Jean-Claude any food as these snakes do not generally eat over winter. And interestingly, these southern brown egg-eaters only need to eat three or four times a year. We are sourcing finch eggs which we will offer to both Jean and Claude,” Kunz said.
She added that southern brown egg-eaters who feed exclusively on eggs are found throughout Mpumalanga, Limpopo, parts of the Eastern Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.