Seeing double: Rare two-headed turtle hatches in protected nesting site

The turtles have been at the Cape Wildlife Center for just over two weeks and continue to be...
The turtles have been at the Cape Wildlife Center for just over two weeks and continue to be “bright and active.”(Cape Wildlife Center // Facebook)
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 8:36 AM EDT
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BARNSTABLE, Mass. (Gray News) – A rare two-headed turtle recently hatched from a protected nesting site in Massachusetts and was taken to the Cape Wildlife Center for assessment.

According to the center, the diamondback terrapin hatchling shares parts of its body but also has some parts that are independent.

In this case, this turtle has two heads and six legs.

“Animals with this rare condition don’t always survive very long or live a good quality of life, but these two have given us reason to be optimistic,” Cape Wildlife Center wrote in a post on Facebook.

The turtle has been at the center for just over two weeks and continues to be “bright and active,” the center said.

“They are eating, swimming, and gaining weight each day. It is impossible to get inside the heads of these two, but it appears that they work together to navigate their environment,” the Facebook post said.

According to the Cape Wildlife Center, the turtle has two spines that fuse together further down the body.

With much observation, they say it appears that each turtle controls three legs. It is able to coordinate swimming so it can come to the surface and breathe.

The center said a barium study revealed the turtles have separate gastrointestinal tracts, so each turtle is able to eat and digest food.

There is still a lot to learn about this hatchling. The Cape Wildlife Center plans to perform a CT scan when it is a little bigger to gain a better understanding of what organs the turtles share internally.

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