What’s scarier than a cobra? How about a cobra with two heads? How about a two-headed cobra that’s grown to 20 cm (8 in) long and hasn’t even eaten yet? How about a growing two-headed cobra that’s so mean, it even attacks its other head? Now THAT’S a scary snake.
This mean and deadly two-headed cobra was discovered on a snake farm in Yulin, China, owned by a mysterious snake breeder who would only reveal his last name … Mr. Huang. He may want to keep a low profile because he breeds Chinese cobras (Naja atra) – a dangerously venomous snake native to southern China and Taiwan, where it’s possessively called the Taiwan cobra. A bite from a Chinese cobra can cause death, so anti-venom is widely available in southern China. Even a mild bite can cause necrosis, a cell-killing condition similar to gangrene. If you don’t get close enough for a bite, the Chinese cobra, like its cousin - the spitting cobra, can spit its venom a distance of two meters.
No one has been bitten or spit on by the two-headed cobra of Yulin. Mr. Huang got close enough to determine each head has its own brain, eyes and tongues. The heads have separate necks and hearts and are joined about a quarter of the way down the length of what would be the body of one snake, which means they share stomachs and digestive systems. The stomachs haven’t been filled yet since the snake has not eaten nor drank water since it was found.
Mr. Huang’s two-headed cobra is now at the Nunning Zoo where it has shed its skin and grown to 20 cm despite not eating. It’s being watched carefully since the independently-operational heads of these snakes have been known to bite and even try to swallow each other – a feat that would be interesting but fatal.
If the two-headed cobra grows to maturity, it could reach up to two meters in length and would probably get its own movie and a job at a temple.