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Two-headed tortoise Janus celebrates 25th birthday

Born and living in Geneva Natural History Museum, Janus is a rare tortoise that has two heads, two hearts, two pairs of lungs and two diverse personalities

Luck and human care both have helped Janus the two-headed tortoise to survive and now he has celebrated his 25th birthday!

Named after the two-headed Roman god of beginnings and transitions, this curious looking reptile has besides two heads, two hearts, two pairs of lungs and two distinct personalities. Janus would not have been able to survive in the wild as would not have been able to retract his heads and claws back into shell making him vulnerable to the predators.

Hatched in an incubator in 1997 in the Geneva Natural History Museum, Janus is looked after 24×7 by Angelica Bourgoin of the Museum and her team of carers to make him what they believe the world’s oldest bicephalic tortoise.

Janus is fed organic salad, given massages and baths daily and exercised regularly with walks. He is exposed to UV light to ensure that the shell remains strong. Constant watch has to be kept to ensure that he doesn’t flip over while his heads require regular treatment with Vaseline to stop them getting sore as they rub together.

Bourgoin told news agency Reuters: “I think it’s because of the attention we give him and our devotion that he’s still here today.”

Besides having two heads, Janus has two diverse personalities which reflect different moods and tastes. This can lead to conflict like deciding on the direction to walk. Visitors find it entertaining when one head tries to steal food from the other.

Highlighting this aspect, Bourgoin said: “The right head is more curious, more awake, it has a much stronger personality. The left head is more passive and loves to eat.”