Rare 2-headed turtle thriving at Massachusetts wildlife center

BARNSTABLE, Mass. — A Massachusetts wildlife center recently welcomed an unusual turtle hatchling that, for obvious reasons, is receiving twice the love and attention of most new arrivals.

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Officials with the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable told WFXT that the rare, double-headed diamondback terrapin resulted from genetic and environmental factors that can influence an embryo’s development.

According to the TV station, the remarkable reptile was hatched from a protected nesting site and brought to the facility’s wildlife hospital by the Barnstable Department of Natural Resources for assessment.

In addition to sporting dual heads, the hatchling also has six legs, categorizing it as bicephalic, the Cape Cod Times reported.

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Meanwhile, center staff confirmed to the newspaper that a barium study revealed that the terrapin has two independent gastrointestinal systems to nourish both sides and that the heads work independently for coming to the surface to breathe.

After observing the turtle swim and move around, center staff discovered each head has control of three legs, while the right side of the body appears to be more developed, WFXT reported.

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