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Two-Headed Snake Facts and Mythology

Two-headed snakes appear ass a rare but recurring biological curiosity, in most species of snake. These real animals may have incpired their many counterparts in myth and legend.

Real Two-Headed Snakes

These are snakes with two heads, and sometimes short necks before attaching to a shared body. However x-rays show that even when the snake is externally divided at or very near the head, each head has a separate stomach.

Synomyms: axial bifurcation, dicephalism, somatodichotomy


Heasman (1933) collected over 70 reports of double-headed snakes. Wallach (2007) collected n astounded 950 cases.


Two-headed snakes are most commonly cue by single embryo that has divided incompletely. Suggested causal factors include extremes of temperature, low oxygen, toxins or inbreeding.

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Mythological Examples


In 671BC poetry described the amphisbaena as a dangerous two-headed snake to be found in Egypt. It's bite was said to cause blindness and death.

Other Examples

Examples of two-headed snakes in other mythologies are to numerous to discuss in depth. The include in Chinese mythology Wei-t'o, Inkanyamba in Zulu stories and in native American mythology a snake known as Ka'toya.


Unproductive Internal Conflict: The two-headed snake is often used as a symbol of people that are divided into factions, such as liberal versus conservative politics in the United States. Th implication is that, with two heads, the snake cannot agree on a plan and make progress,

War: A vision of a two-headed snake was considered an omen of war in ancient Egypt.


  • West, Stephanie. "The Amphisbaena's antecedents." The Classical Quarterly (New Series) 56.01 (2006): 290-291.
  • Heasman, W. J. "The anatomy of a double-headed snake." Journal of anatomy 67.Pt 2 (1933): 331.
  • Jencks, C. (2007). Why Critical Modernism?. Architectural Design, 77(5), 140-145.
  • Kostuch, L. (2009). Cleopatra′ s Snake or Octavian′ s? The Role of the Cobra in the triumph over the Egyptian Queen. Klio, 91(1), 115-124.
  • 'Niimi, Toshi. "Additional report on the dichotomous snakes." 爬蟲兩棲類學雑誌 4.1-4 (1971): 5-11.
  • Wallach, Van. "Axial bifurcation and duplication in snakes. Part I. A synopsis of authentic and anecdotal cases." Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 43.57 (2007): e95.
  • West, Stephanie. "The Amphisbaena's antecedents." The Classical Quarterly (New Series) 56.01 (2006): 290-291.


Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 02, 2018:

I suppose a two-headed snake is basically conjoined twins. Imagine not knowing much about the world thousands of years ago and then coming across a snake which is not only dangerous but also has two sets of teeth instead of one! No wonder these made it into mythology. They are quite frightening-looking, even if there is a scientific explanation for their existence.

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