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A mutant two-headed rattlesnake has been found among a nest of the deadly serpents in what’s been called a “once in a lifetime” discovery.
Snake wrangler Greyson Getty from Phoenix, Arizona, in the US, was called to clear out a den of the killer reptiles when he found the four-eyed creature among them.
“It was incredibly exciting,” said Mr Getty.
“I had already removed four adult rattlesnakes and seven other freshly-born baby rattlesnakes from that hole.
“Even for a seasoned professional such as myself, that’s already a pretty adrenaline-packed way to start your morning.
“So to then pull out a two-headed rattlesnake which, dead or alive, is incredibly rare, had me absolutely overcome with excitement.
“It was such a crazy once in a lifetime observation that I couldn’t even have dreamt it up.”
Rattlesnakes bite more humans than any other snake in North America and are responsible for most of the continent’s fatal bites.
And though their venom is only occasionally deadly, it can nonetheless cause severe pain, vomiting, haemorrhaging, and sometimes even heart failure.
So when a nest of the serpents was spotted near a golf course in Scottsdale, the experts were called out.
Mr Getty, from snake removal company Rattlesnake Solutions, was in shock at what he found.
“The animal itself was coiled in the back corner of the hole, away from all of its siblings,” he said.
“I couldn’t see the heads until I started dragging the snake backwards, at which point it didn’t really register until it hit daylight and I could process what I was looking at.
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“It was so strange, the body itself being incredibly disproportionate compared to its siblings, and then the two heads and how different they are.
“The first few seconds I was in shock, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t soon hopping around the adjacent golf course like a small child on Christmas morning.”
Bryan Hughes, founder of Rattlesnake Solutions, said the snake was found dead and had likely perished as a result of its deformity.
“Two-headed snakes can happen when more than one baby shares a single egg yolk,” he said.
“This may result in two babies – twins – but in some cases, various factors may prevent that process from being completed.
“Similar to conjoined twins in other species, they are separate animals with two fully-developed brains which share a single body.
“This can create obvious physiological problems, which is likely what caused the death of this one.”
Mr Hughes said that across the entire company, after more than 20,000 call outs, there had been just one similar occurrence: when a rattler was found with one whole head and another partly formed.
He also said that the other snakes were safely relocated.
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