This story by Sanjib Chaudhary originally appeared on Global Voices on 5 May, 2020.
Dicephaly, the condition that causes a snake to be born with two heads, is already very rare. But when villagers from the Nawalpur captured a two-headed banded kukri snake (Oligodon arnenis) they did not have the faintest idea that it was the first of its species.
A recent report in the April 2020 edition of IRCF Journal confirms the discovery. It was the first record of dicephalism of a krait in Nepal, and was studied by Kamal Devkota of the Nepal Toxinology Association and his team at Save the Snakes.
“In my decade-long career, I have found other interesting cases of snakes but you always don’t get what you want,” says Devkota. “Dicephalic snakes are found opportunistically while surveying snakes rather than following any specific methods.”
Police officers rescued the snake from the villagers while they were taking it to Kathmandu, and transferred it to park rangers from the Chitwan National Park who released it into the natural habitat. The banded kukri snakes are named after their sharp, flattened, curved teeth which resemble the Gurkha khukri knife, and are found in the subcontinent.