A rare two-headed baby tortoise has baffled experts, who predict it’s likely to live a long, healthy life.
The mutant tortoise has two heads and four front legs but only one set of internal organs, a CT scan has revealed.
The African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata) is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
This one – nicknamed Sorte, or ‘Luck’ in Portuguese – was hatched on 1st August to a breeder called Ruben van Schoor in Putten, Holland.
Veterinarian and reptile expert Sandra Vink from AniCura vets told Newsflash: “It’s the first one in the Netherlands as far as we know. It is very rare, especially with this specific kind of tortoise.”
She added: “As far as the owner knows, it’s the first one in the world. It is very uncommon.
“We’ve found few cases in media. Usually they do not have long to live.
“Often the animals have a complete second organ system, also with two hearts, and they are very sensitive to diseases.
“It has a good chance of surviving because it looks like it has one heart, one gastrointestinal tract.
“This means it’s actually one animal with two heads.
“If it would have been a Siamese twin, it would have a bigger chance of getting sick and if one of the parts would die, the other would too.
“This is what we have seen through the CT scan – so good news for Sorte.”
She went on: “It’s very active and eats well. So all signs point to that she can live a long and happy live, because she is cared for very well by her owner.
“In nature, she would not survive on her own. The two heads often don’t agree which way to go.”
Speaking about the reason for the mutation she explained: “You often get conjoined twins, with their own organ systems. But because this is one tortoise, you can’t really speak of that.”