Two-headed 'mutant' turtle found at Arkansas farm

Photo by Sarah Morris, Jonesboro Sun
Photo by Sarah Morris, Jonesboro Sun

(WMC) - An Arkansas biologist calls a newborn two-headed snapping turtle rare, but he says turtle mutations are becoming more common.

According to Jonesboro Sun, a North East Arkansas Turtle Farm employee discovered the common snapper last week in a group of 30,000 that are being shipped to China.

NEA specializes in the production of several species of turtlescommon snapper turtles, spiny soft shell turtlesthat are native to the area. They are typically sold for research or education, but the Arkansas farm would like to find a home for the baby two-headed turtle, which will likely sell to a collector.

Memphis Zoo reptiles and amphibians curator Steve Reichling says these mutations usually occur when twins don't fully separate during embryogenesis.

"We do see them from time to time. It's something that happens rarely," he said.

Although, Reichling says he does not have any data that could confirm or deny the increase in these mutations.

NEA farm owner Marcus Balch told the Sun the turtle is exceptional and one of a kind, despite it's not the first with an abnormality.

A hatchling with one neck and two heads was found at NEA, but it died at birth. Additionally, other turtles have been born with too many legs or no tails.

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