Q:

Does a five-headed snake exist?

A:

Quick Answer

No evidence confirms that a five-headed snake has ever existed. The circulated pictures of a cobra with five or seven heads show merely similar snake heads joined using computer programs. Some photographs of the snake appear to have a fake body lying in brush with heads added through special effects.

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Full Answer

Polycephaly is the scientific term for the condition of having more than one head. Snakes with two heads have been found, but this condition is rare. Most polycephalic snakes have two distinct heads with necks joined together farther down the body. Some animals have three heads. Even some humans have two heads, such as the case with Siamese twins.

Two-headed snakes rarely survive very long in the wild. Both heads have brains, and sometimes one head fights with the other over which one gets to swallow prey. Two heads confuse each other and thus delay the snake's escape from attacks. Two-headed snakes simply do not move as quickly as other snakes in the wild.

Some mythological creatures have multiple heads. Ancient Greeks believed the Hydra grew another head after one was severed. Hindu culture worships Sheshnag, the five-headed snake that serves as the throne of the god Vishnu. A Buddhist legend tells of seven snake heads covering Buddha's head to protect him from rain after he reached enlightenment. In the Bible, the Book of Revelation mentions a seven-headed red serpent with 10 horns.

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