What’s more terrifying than a snake? A snake with two heads and an insatiable appetite. That’s what a myriad of Instagram users are realizing as a viral video circulates showing a rare two-headed snake feeding on the lifeless bodies of rodents.
The graphic video was shared by Brian Barczyk, the owner of The Reptarium, a zoo located in Southeast Michigan that specializes in reptiles. It shows the two-headed snake who he has affectionately named Ben and Jerry. The snake (snakes?) are trying to swallow the lifeless bodies of rodents. It’s unclear from watching but it appears they’re taking turns slowly swallowing the critters, which may cause an issue as the duo share a single stomach and esophagus. You can watch the video below, if you dare.
The video of the creature having its meal has been viewed well over 20,000 times since it was first uploaded to Barczyk’s Instagram, with many of the commenters simply voicing countless questions about the two-headed snake.
According to the zoo’s website, Ben and Jerry are a rare 2 Headed California Kingsnake. They are described as not being very common at all but not unheard of in nature. Native to the western United States and northern New Mexico, the average California Kingsnake can grow to be three to four feet long and, if they survive their mutation at infancy, can live to be 20 years old. In other words, these snakes are pretty scary on their own, let alone when there are two heads coming at you.
Speaking to Newsweek, Barczyk notes that Ben and Jerry is (are?) four years old. After purchasing them from a friend, they quickly became one of The Reptarium’s main attractions. Fortunately for those reserving a spot for Ben and Jerry in their nightmares, he notes that California Kingsnakes don’t typically attack humans unless threatened or surprised. Even when they do, they’re not venomous and can be docile when tamed.
He describes the technical term for a snake like this as polycephaly, a non-hereditary condition that causes a malformation in the developing embryo. He notes that both heads eat exclusively rodents but that Ben, the left head, is the “dominant one” and eats about twice as much as Jerry. This is fine because all the food they consume is digested in the same stomach and provides equal nourishment. However, if you find yourself alone with Ben and Jerry, perhaps it would behoove you to keep to the right.
The rest of Barczyk’s Instagram is a great place for animal lovers to get a look at reptiles and other zoos across the country. However, as the Ben and Jerry video demonstrates, some of his videos are not for the faint of heart. Other videos include an alligator being fed a full rabbit, Barczyk being bitten and constricted by smaller snakes, including another, one-headed California Kingsnake, and an inexplicable video from his trip to Indonesia in which a woman threads a baby snake through her nose and out her mouth. There’s also some pretty solid spider content that can also be described as “horrifying” depending on who you are.
In short, if you like snakes and other animals that fall outside the definition of “cuddly,” both Barczyk’s Instagram and the Reptarium may just be the place for you.