Concise News reports that the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service shared the picture of the baby carpet python – nicknamed Monty Python – which had a third eye on top of its head, on Facebook, in a post which was shared more than 9,000 times.
The wildlife authority’s rangers found the creature on the Arnhem Highway, near Humpty Doo, just outside of Darwin, in the country’s north.
It died a few weeks after it was found.
The post says: “The snake is peculiar as an x-ray revealed it was not two separate heads forged together, rather it appeared to be one skull with an additional eye socket and three functioning eyes.
“It was generally agreed that the eye likely developed very early during the embryonic stage of development. It is extremely unlikely that this is from environmental factors and is almost certainly a natural occurrence as malformed reptiles are relatively common.”
Officials told the BBC that the 15-inch reptile had been struggling to eat because of its deformity.
Snake expert, Professor Bryan Fry, from the University of Queensland, says mutations were part of evolution.
He told the BBC: “Every baby has a mutation of some sort – this one is just particularly gross and misshapen,” said Prof Fry, from the University of Queensland.
“I haven’t seen a three-eyed snake before, but we have a two-headed cobra python in our lab – it’s just a different kind of mutation like what we see with Siamese twins.”
He suggests that the snake’s third eye may have been “the last little bit of a twin that’s been absorbed”.