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Rare Two-Headed Snake Survives Surgery—Still Has Two Heads Though

The two-headed western rat snake known as Tiger-Lily survived surgery earlier this month at the Saint Louis Zoo and is now back in the care of the state.

In a statement, Lauren Baker, a naturalist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, explained that they raised concerns about Tiger-Lily’s well-being after they sneezed blood. 

“This immediately raised a red flag with our staff, and we quickly got her an appointment with the Animal Health Team at the Saint Louis Zoo,” Baker said.

During an evaluation, veterinarians at the zoo discovered that the female snakes’ ovaries were in pre-ovulatory stasis. Dr. Michael Warshaw, a staff veterinarian at the Saint Louis Zoo, explained that their ovary should grow follicles and they would eventually lay them as eggs. 

“In Tiger-Lily’s case, she began the reproductive cycle, but the follicles did not ovulate and instead continued to grow and remain static in her ovary,” Warshaw said. “Over time this led to inflammation and the risk of infection.”

As a result, the veterinary team determined that the best treatment option was to remove Tiger-Lily’s abnormal ovaries, so they underwent surgery on March 11. 

Tiger-Lily was discovered in 2017 by a family in Stone County, Missouri, which gave them the name, according to MDC. Tiger-Lily is actually a pair of conjoined identical snake twins, which is rarely seen in the wild, partly because such snakes have a low survival rate. However, they’re expected to make a full recovery.

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