A state agency has arranged for the care of a rare two-headed copperhead snake found at a residence in Northern Virginia on Sunday night.
The venomous snake, a member of the viper family, is an "extremely rare" find in the wild, state herpetologist J.D. Kleopfer told USA TODAY. Kleopfer is a reptiles and amphibians specialist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
He said the snake is currently being cared for by an experienced viper keeper, with the hope that it will one day be put on display at a zoo.
Snakes with such a mutation find it difficult to survive in the wild, Kleopfer said. That's in part because the two heads often want to do "two different things."
This particular snake was young – about two weeks old, and small – about 6 inches long, according to Kleopfer.
Imaging provided some insight on the physical makeup of the snake: "Thanks to the Wildlife Center of Virginia we were able to determine that the left head has the dominant esophagus and the right head has the more developed throat for eating," Kleopfer wrote in a Facebook post.
Copperheads often grow to 18-36 inches in length, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While they are not known for being aggressive, they do sometimes attack humans when disturbed.
Kleopfer said the "little guy" probably wasn't much of a danger. At its age, he said the viper was mainly attacking insects.
The snake shouldn't alarm anyone, Kleopfer said. It's his goal to help the snake stay alive.
Stephanie Myers shared photos of the viper on Sunday evening. She said that the snake was found at her neighbor's flowerbed in Woodbridge, Virginia.
"I wanted to look away but couldn’t stop looking at it. Plays trick on the eyes," she told USA TODAY in a written message.
Among the hashtags in her Facebook post: #sohardnottolookatit, #nobodyhastimeforthat and #justlookingatthismakesmeswear.