Janus, the oldest two-headed turtle in the world, turns 25

Janus, the oldest two-headed turtle in the world, was treated to edible flowers for her 25th birthday from the Geneva Museum of Natural History, where she lives peaceful days. Janus – like the eponymous two-faced Roman god – has two heads, but also two hearts, two pairs of lungs and two stomachs.

In the middle of nature, the life expectancy of Janus would be extremely short, explained Saturday the director of the museum Arnaud Maeder, during a press briefing to celebrate the event. Indeed, the turtle does not have, like its one-headed congeners, the space to retract its two heads in its shell and the first predator to come would quickly make a meal of it.

Daily support

Even in captivity, reaching the age of 25 with such a malformation is extraordinary, underlines Arnaud Maeder. Two healers take turns day after day to give Janus his daily bath, meals and exercise. Recently, the male Greek tortoise had to be operated on for a stone in his bladder. An unusual operation carried out at the Tierspital in Zurich and which was the subject of a presentation at a symposium.

The Janus species, which lives in the Mediterranean regions, has long been considered a pet. Today, the Greek tortoise has been placed on the list of endangered reptiles. Its trade is highly regulated, but there is still traffic, especially in North Africa, because it is a profitable activity, regrets the director of the Museum. Janus was hatched 25 years ago in the institution’s animal facility, from an egg lent by a private individual. He agreed to leave it at the museum after it hatched in exchange for the promise of good care.

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