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Rare Two-headed Diamondback Turtle Thrives at Animal Refuge in Massachusetts

A two-headed diamondback terrapin is weighed at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center on Oct. 9 in Barnstable, Mass., where the two-week old animal is being treated. The turtle is alive and kicking — with all six of its legs — after hatching recently.
(Steve Heaslip/AP)

A two-headed diamondback terrapin is weighed at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center on Oct. 9 in Barnstable, Mass., where the two-week old animal is being treated. The turtle is alive and kicking — with all six of its legs — after hatching recently. (Steve Heaslip/AP)

The turtle originally came from a nest in West Barnstable that researchers determined was in a hazardous location and needed to be moved.

A rare two-headed diamondback terrapin turtle is alive and kicking - with all six of its legs - at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Massachusetts after hatching two weeks ago. A threatened species in the state, this turtle is feeding well on blood worms and food pellets, staff at the center say. The two heads operate independently, coming up for air at different times, and inside its shell are two gastrointestinal systems to feed both sides of its body.

The turtle originally came from a nest in West Barnstable that researchers determined was in a hazardous location and needed to be moved. After hatching, turtles in these so-called “head start" nests are sent to different care centers to be monitored before their release in the spring, The Cape Cod Times reported.

Center veterinarian Pria Patel and other staff members will continue to monitor the turtle, which they nicknamed Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen after the twin child stars. The staff is hoping to perform a CT scan to learn more about its circulatory system.

During a routine nest inventory, the sea turtle patrols from the Edisto Beach State Park found a rare two-headed turtle. The workers spotted the sea turtle with two heads struggling to crawl on the South Carolina Beach. According to the Facebook post, the Sea Turtle Patrol was doing a routine nest inventory during which they detected a turtle with a major emergency.

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“Three to five days after a sea turtle nest shows signs of a major emergency, we dig down to determine the success of the nest by counting the hatched eggs, unhatched eggs and on occasions, also find live hatchlings," read the post by South Carolina State Parks.

The sea turtle patrols are known to be volunteers who will walk to the beaches from June to August to find loggerhead turtle nests. Once they find a nest, the area will be roped off to prevent it from getting trampled on. In addition, these volunteers also pick up litter and fill holes in the sand, so that they do not create obstacles for the hatching turtles.

(Inputs from AP)

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first published:October 13, 2021, 16:29 IST