Science

Flowers for the birthday of Janus, the oldest two-headed tortoise.

Janus, the oldest two-headed tortoise in the world, was treated to edible flowers for her 25th birthday from the Natural History Museum in Geneva, where she lives peaceful days.

Janus – like the two-faced Roman god of the same name – has two heads, but the tortoise also has two hearts, two pairs of lungs and two stomachs.

In the midst of nature, Janus’ lifespan will be extremely short, museum director Arno Meder explained during a press briefing on the event Saturday.

Indeed, the turtle, unlike its one-headed relatives, does not have a place to hide two heads in the shell, and the first approaching predator will quickly eat it.

Even in captivity, reaching 25 years of age with such a defect is extraordinary, Meder says.

The two healers take turns bathing Janus day after day, eating and exercising.

Recently, a male Greek tortoise had to be operated on because of a bladder stone. An unusual operation performed at the Tierspital in Zurich and presented at a symposium.

The Janus species, which lives in the Mediterranean regions, has long been considered a domestic animal, and today the Greek tortoise is listed as an endangered reptile.

Its trade is strictly regulated, but there is still movement, especially in North Africa, because it is a profitable activity, the director of the museum regrets.

Janus hatched 25 years ago at the institution’s livestock complex from an egg donated by a private individual. He agreed to keep him in the museum after he hatched in exchange for the promise of good care.

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