For a snake, eating is usually a jaw-dropping experience, the department said.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is offering a free virtual program “Snake Feeding: Featuring a Two-Headed Snake,” where attendees will learn interesting details about how snakes consume their food and watch a two-headed snake get fed.  

MDC’s Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center staff will offer the program from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 29.

Among the snakes that will be fed during this online program will be the two-headed western ratsnake that has been housed at the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center since it was found by a family in Stone County in 2017. Though the feeding of the two-headed snake will be the highlight of the online program, people who register for this event will learn that even snakes having only one head utilize some unique adaptations to consume their prey. Participants will be able to watch Shepherd of the Hills staff feed several snakes that are kept at the Conservation Center.

Contrary to what’s often said, snakes cannot detach their lower jaw. However, due to incredible jaw flexibility, a snake can open its mouth wider than its body and swallow prey that is large in relation to its mouth and head. To put it in human perspective, MDC said some of the larger prey items snakes can consume would be the equivalent of a human swallowing a basketball. This unique form of eating has benefits. Because such a large quantity of food can be consumed at one time, some mature snakes in the wild can get by with eating once every several weeks. Swallowing items larger than their heads also helps snakes to provide benefits to humans by being able to eat mice and rats.

People can register for the online program at:

https://mdc-event-web.s3licensing.com/Event/EventDetails/173822

Though this program is free, registration is required to participate using the link above. Registrants must provide an e-mail, so a program link can be sent to them. This program will include a chat-based question-and-answer period where participants can interact with the presenters.

Staff at MDC facilities across the state are holding virtual programs. A listing of these programs can be found at mdc.mo.gov/regions.