By Cleve Bryan


PEMBERTON, N.J. (CBS) — There was a rare find deep in the woods of South Jersey. The discovery of a newborn two-headed snake is captivating herpetologists.

Double Dave is a two-headed timber rattlesnake that colleagues Dave Schneider and Dave Burkett, of Herpetological Associates in Pemberton, found last week in the Pine Barrens while looking for timber nests. They don’t want to say where so people don’t disturb the breeding grounds.

The snake is only about two weeks old and, to their knowledge, it’s the first two-headed rattlesnake ever found in New Jersey.

(credit: CBS3)

Their best guess is that it was going to be twin snakes developing in the same egg but somehow it developed two heads and a single body.

“It was probably supposed to be a twin and then during the development, it ended up being a two-headed snake,” said Bob Zappalorti, owner of Herpetological Associates.

Both heads seem to be fully functional but until it’s old enough to eat in a few more days, they won’t know too much about the rest of its anatomy.

The biologists are fascinated by the rare reptile.

“Both tongues are flicking independently of each other so it’s got two brains,” Schneider explained. “When it move around you’ll see that one head goes one way and the other and they’re kind of fighting each other and stiffen up and then one will decide to go with the better half. So it’s pretty interesting.”

Unfortunately, two heads are not better than one for a snake’s survival. Its irregular movements would make it easy prey, so rather than return it to the wild, they’ll take care of it and use it for educational purposes.

Timber rattlesnakes are an endangered species in New Jersey.