Todd Ray, Two-Headed Turtle Owner, Divided Over Surgical Separation (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
The owner of what is believed to be the largest collection of two-headed animals in the world is of two minds over what to do with the latest member of his menagerie: a two-headed turtle.
Todd Ray, who runs the Venice Beach Freakshow in Los Angeles, recently came into possession of the double-domed turtle after a person called him requesting help with the tiny creature, which he believes is an Eastern Box turtle.
"I got a phone call from a kid near Compton whose grandfather has turtles," Ray told HuffPost Weird News exclusively. "The man had two conjoined turtles and the boy wanted to try and save them.
"I told him how to hydrate them and told him to give them time to eat, because one head will claw the other one in front of him, not realizing they can't get away."
Try as he might, the owner wasn't getting a positive response and was, frankly, a little shellshocked at the thought the tiny two-headed turtle might die, so he brought them to Ray, who estimates he has raised as many as 40 such animals over the years.
"He wasn't sure what he should do," Ray said. "They're weren't moving. They are very little, maybe about six weeks old, and when I first saw them, they were motionless. But I grabbed one of the legs and it pulled back."
Although he has been able to get them hydrated and even eat some worm -- provided he mushes it up first -- they are sort of waffling back and forth between being listless and lively.
"It doesn't appear as if they're going to improve so I'm considering doing something I never have before: Getting them surgically separated," he said.
Ray has consulted with local veterinarians and most of them believe the turtles should be euthanized. However, since Box turtles can live upwards of 50 years, he'd like to see if separating them could help them live a full life.
"This is the very first time I have ever wanted to separate two animals," he said. "I love animals as they are born and have struggled with the idea of separating animals that have been created together."
PHOTOS: TWO-HEADED ANIMALS (STORY CONTINUES BELOW):
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Super Fat Cat
This Thursday, April 19, 2012 photo provided by the Santa Fe Animal Shelter veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Steketee holds Meow, a 2-year-old tabby at the shelter in Santa Fe, N.M. Meow, arrived at the shelter weighing in at over 39 pounds, after his elderly owner could no longer care for the feline. The shelter plans to put the cat on a special diet so he can lose weight gradually. Adult cats typically weigh between 7 and 12 pounds. (AP Photo/Santa Fe Animal Shelter, Ben Swan)
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A two-headed turtle has hatched at the San Antonio Zoo and officials have named her Thelma and Louise.
Six Legged Calf
Six-legged calf "Lilli" stands on the pasture of its owner Andreas Knutti, in Weissenburg, Switzerland, Thursday, March 29, 2012. The calf was born seven weeks ago with two additional legs on its back. (Peter Schneider, Keystone / AP)
A man displays a two-headed turtle 'Testudo horsfieldi' at National Museum of natural history in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, March 5, 2012. Besides the two heads the reptile has six legs.
These photos were included in a report that advocated for increasing the amount of selenium in Southern Idaho's creeks.
Harvey Dent, the two-faced kitten born in Florida. Unfortunately Harvey Dent passed away from complications at just two days old.
Two-headed animals and other bizarre creatures
The two heads of this razorback musk turtle have been named Teeny and Tiny by Todd Ray of the Venice Beach Freakshow. He believes it is the smallest two-headed turtle he's ever seen.
6-Legged Lamb Born In Georgia
A Georgian farmer was shocked Jan. 25 when one of his sheep gave birth to a lamb with six legs. This peculiar critter has four legs at the front and two at the back.
Freeze-dried Two-headed Pig
Three-eyed Fish found near Argentina. Source: GIzmodo
Two-headed Turtle May Be Surgically Separated
Todd Ray, who has what is believed to be the world's largest collection of two-headed animals, is considering whether or not he should surgically separate this two-headed turtle.
Pig with Two Snouts
This tiny porker has an excuse for making a pig of himself at mealtimes - he really does have two mouths to feed. The bizarre two-month-old youngster - part of a litter born on a farm in Deshengtang, Jilin province, northern China - can use both his mouths to eat and appears otherwise normal, say his owners. Farmer Li Zhenjun and his wife Yu Wanfen named the piglet Xiaobao - or 'Babe' in English - after the movie about an extraordinary talking pig. Li explained: "The mouths aren't much of an advantage because his head is very heavy and he gets pushed around by the others." "I'm feeding her with a bottle now and she's doing very well," he added.
Two Headed Snake 2011
"Us" is a 2 1/2-year-old, 4-foot long, two-headed carpet python residing at the World Aquarium in St. Louis. According to aquarium President Leonard Sonnenschein, it may be the only one in the world.
Two Headed Turtle 2010
Sonnenschein likened this unique musk turtle to the Pushmi-pullyu from the "Dr. Dolittle" story.
Unicorn Cow 2010
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Two Head Cows 2010
Egyptian farmers feed a two-headed calf, which can't stand on its own legs because it is top heavy, at a village near Alexandria, Egypt.
2 headed calf 2009
A vet feeds five month two-headed calf "Milagritos" (Little Miracle) in Cajamarca, Peru, on Aug. 19, 2009.
We, a two-headed hermaphroditic rat snake, lived at the World Aquarium in St. Louis for 8 1/2 years before dying in June of 2007. In 2006, the aquarium unsuccessfully attempted to mate it with another two-headed snake.
Two Headed Pig 2007
A newly born piglet with one head, two mouths, two noses and three eyes is reflected by mirrors on March 6, 2007, in China.
Two Headed Turtle 2007
Store manager Jay Jacoby displays a two-headed red slider turtle at Big Al's Aquarium Supercenter in East Norriton, Pa.
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Janus, the Geneva Museum of Natural History's two-headed Greek tortoise, is presented to the press and the public during the official celebration of its 10th birthday on Sept. 5, 2007. Janus, named after the two-headed Roman god was born Sept. 3, 1997.
Kirk Heldreth pets his two-faced Holstein calf in 2007, in Rural Retreat, Va. Despite her malformed mouth, the calf named Star fed from a bottle and is won over Heldreth, who didn't expect her to live long after her birth. He had considered donating the calf to Virginia Tech for scientific purposes, or even selling her for show. Star has been drawing the curious to Heldreth's southwest Virginia farm, which sees about 40 to 50 visitors daily.
Six Legged Lamb 2006
Belgian grower Maurice Peeters holds a six-legged lamb a day after its birth March 18, 2006, in Meeuwen-Gruitrode.
Gemini The Two-Headed Cat
Gemini, a kitten from Rhode Island, had an unfortunately short life.
Beside their tiny size, the turtles are belly-to-belly with each other and they are only connected in one area about the size of a dime.
"It's hard to see if any internal organs are connected," Ray said. "I don't know if we can scan them unless they eat something."
Separating conjoined humans is unusual, but it's not uncommon. However, separating conjoined animals is so rare that most vets contacted have never heard of it.
One vet who is credited with doing such an operation is Dr. Douglas Folland of Centerville, Utah, who allegedly separated conjoined robins earlier this year.
He says that wasn't exactly the case.
"The birds were not conjoined," he insisted to HuffPost Weird News. "They were attached by a piece of fiber that wrapped around the wing and somehow penetrated them.
"I think the owner may have called them 'conjoined' to save face."
Dr. Folland says he's not even sure that separating conjoined animals like Ray is suggesting has even been tried.
"With humans, they will go in and divide the organs if they have to," he said. "It could be done with animals, but, as far as I know, it hasn't been done in veterinary medicine. If the [turtles] are just separated by skin, it can be done fairly easy.
"From the photo, it looks like they are sharing at least the plastron, which is the bottom shell," he said. "That would be a tough separation because they both need a plastron. It is not something that will grow back."
Still, Ray is trying to convince his vet to do the operation, but he fears time is running out.
"He examined them today and said they need to be eating better before we try it," he said. "They are conjoined a little more than I thought, so it is riskier than I thought. I'm nervous for them. I just tried to feed them again and they barely ate."