Unusual three-eyed snake discovered in Australia

Credit: Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife

In March 2019, rangers patrolling a small Australian village called Humpty Doo near to Darwin, reported the discovery of a three-eyed python living in the wild. Unfortunately the reptile did not survive long as it is reported to have died in May 2019. 

Three-eyed snake

Disfigurements are quite common for reptiles.  A few months ago we published an article about a man from north-eastern America coming face to face with a two headed snake. This was a rare discovery in the wild as the chances of survival for such a specimen was next to none.  However recently, in the north of Australia another disfigured snake was discovered.  Forest patrols announced a few months ago that they had come across a young three-eyed python in the vicinity of Humpty Doo.  The reptile, whose third eye was positioned on its head, was nicknamed “Monty Python”.

A radiography scan of the reptile revealed that Monty’s head had an additional ocular orifice.His eye probably developed very early, in its infancy,” said the Northern Territory’s Parks and Wildlife Commission on its Facebook page. The statement continued that, “It is extremely unlikely that this is due to environmental factors. Malformations are common among reptiles.”

The snake, discovered last March 2019, measured 40 cm and was about three months old when discovered.  Unfortunately the reptile did not last long as it died last week.  “It is remarkable that it could survive as long as it did in the wild with its deformity“, noted the forest ranger,  Ray Chatto to NT News.  “It was already struggling to feed itself when we found it.”

Un python doté de trois yeux fonctionnels découvert par des gardes sur une route australienne. Crédits : Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife

Snake deformities

Teratology is the study of malformations and abnormalities in living beings. These deformities happen – as is the case here – due to an error during the development of the embryo. These abnormalities may be genetic or due to unfavorable environmental factors during the embryo development  (such as incubation temperature, for example).
In addition to extremely rare cases such as a “third eye”, snakes are more frequently affected by problems concerning the epidermis. Albinism, for example, is known in pythons, vipers, cobras, and snakes.  Sometimes one eye can be abnormally small (microphthalmia), or that one eye (or both) is absent (anophthalmos).


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