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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Two-headed tortoise born in SA
Two-headed tortoise
The heads seem to control different pairs of legs
Residents in Wellington, South Africa, are celebrating the arrival of a remarkable addition to the town - a newborn two-headed tortoise.

The tortoise stunned owner Noel Daniels when it emerged, its two heads peeping out from its shell.

The animal has four normal legs, although the underside of its shell is flat instead of rounded.

Despite its unusual attributes, the tortoise is functioning normally.

"The tortoise is normal and both heads feed on leaves, grass and softened rabbit pellets," Mr Daniels said.

Tripping up

He said it appears that one of the heads controls the front pair of legs and the other the back.

"When the tortoise gets a fright, the heads each want to move in its own direction, and then the feet get all tangled up," Mr Daniels said.

He said the heads have not squabbled because "they're still too little".

Tortoise expert Dr Ernst Baard, of Cape Nature Conservation, said the phenomenon probably occurred during the embryonic stage of development.

"With proper love and care its chances are not too bad, but I doubt if it will survive into adulthood," he said.


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