July 2, 2011 -- A python in Germany has slithered its way into the spotlight thanks to a rare anatomical anomaly: It has two heads. The snake just might be Germany's next animal superstar, but first it needs a name. The owner is holding a contest to find the perfect moniker on social networking sites.
Multi-headed snakes aren't just the stuff of Greek mythology. A snake with two heads has been born in the southern German city of Villingen-Schwenningen, its owner revealed recently. At just 300-grams, the forked tongues of the Royal python aren't nearly as threatening as the savage Greek Hydra, though.
The unnamed snake, also commonly known as a Ball python, was born about a year ago in the care of reptile expert Stefan Broghammer. It has two spinal cords and two heads, both of which are active. The animal has no physical problems or defects, says Broghammer, and even manages to eat and digest food without difficulty.
But when mealtime arrives, only one head does the eating, he says. Otherwise, the snake's snack could be its last. If both heads were to eat simultaneously, food could get lodged in the esophagus, causing the snake to suffocate.
Broghammer estimates that there are five snakes like his in the world -- three in the US, one in a Sri Lankan zoo and his own, still nameless python. In one of his monthly online snake videos entitled "Check My Balls," apparently a tongue-in-cheek reference to his affection for Ball pythons, Broghammer introduces the unnamed snake as a "dear, friendly, good animal."
"I think it's doing quite well so far," he adds.
Broghammer has called on snake fans to submit their ideas for the perfect name to suit the two-headed creature, and suggestions can be made on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.
But the dual-headed reptile isn't the first to excite Germans in recent history. "Tom and Jerry" recently greeted visitors at a zoo exhibit in Munich. This was no cute cartoon, but a two-headed California King Snake in the Swiss traveling reptile exhibition Vivarium.
Born in 1998 on a breeding farm, Tom and Jerry should have been twins from a single fertilized egg. But while developing, the embryonic division was only partially completed. Instead of twins, a two-headed snake came hissing into the world. Twelve years since his birth, audiences still marvel over the unusual animal -- who is that much more remarkable for having survived with the mutation for so long.