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article imageTwo-headed albino snake amazes zoo visitors

By Lynn Curwin     Jul 15, 2011 in World
Yalta - A two-headed albino California Kingsnake, whose heads sometimes try to steal food from one another, is now on display at a Ukrainian zoo.
The three-year-old, two-foot-long (60 centimetre) snake is on loan from Germany, and will be at the "Skazka" (Fairy tale) zoo in Yalta until September.
"Two-headed snakes are born viable rarely - about once every 50 years!" states information on the zoo's website.
These snakes will prey on other reptiles, which means that one head might attack the other if hungry.
"We feed them well and keep track of every head!" added the zoo.
Zoo worker Ruslan Yakovenko said that the head will sometimes fight over food.
"If it is really hungry, its heads may steal food from each other," Google News quoted him as saying.
"The second head may get angry, but both then feel satiation because they only have one stomach."
The Telegraph reported that Dmytro Tkachov, chief keeper at the snake-house, said that: "One head has to be isolated with a special spatula so that the second head does not block its swallowing.
Sometimes there is a bit of confusion when one head wants to go in one direction and the other head feels like going another way, but one of the heads appears to be dominant when determining destination.
Gordon Burghardt, a herpetologist who has studied several two-headed snakes, said that because snakes often operate on smell, if one head catches the scent of prey on the other head, it will attack.
"If the two heads are very close together it's going to be much more difficult for them. With more separation, they can act a little more independently," he told National Geographic.
He said he hears of a two-headed snake every several years, but the animals cannot respond to attack quickly, and have no chance of survival in the wild.
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