American media has been stunned by the acquisition of an animal park where an already rare diamond back marsh turtle was brought in anyway — with no less than two heads. A unique as far as known.
The Washington Post writes extensively about the animal, the size of a chicken nugget. “When it was brought in — wow, we fell back steeply,” says director Katrina Bergman of the New England Wildlife Centers in Cape Cod.
The animal was brought in by conservationists. They have a breeding program with the diamond back swamp turtle, an endangered species.
Two intestinal systems
A scan shows that there are two digestive systems — both animals can digest their own food. There are two backbones that do merge at some point. The two also breathe independently.
The turtle has already been swimming. That succeeded. Wonderfully, the two inhabitants of the shield both seemed to control part of the legs. “The left has control over three legs, and the right controls the other three,” says Bergman. “They swam together.”
When the animal had just arrived, “everyone was stunned because they looked good,” she says. “If they had been in pain, we would also use euthanasia. But as far as we can see, its two happy men.”
Experts know no previous cases of this species, but do indicate that two head turtles have been seen before. Such animals have little chance of surviving in the wild. That goes for this animal as well. “But now everyone is just thrilled to see and keep an eye on them,” Bergman said.