Two heads better than one for oddity show

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 31, 2002

When Fred Lally was seven years old, he didn’t believe that two-headed animals existed. His cousin told him they did.

Now with his wife, Kathy, Lally displays two-headed animals in their exhibit of reptilian oddities at county and state fairs. Their exhibit houses snakes and turtles, all of which are either albinos or have two heads. One of them &045; a rat snake &045; is actually both. The exhibit also includes a “two-headed, six-legged” turtle, which is actually two “Siamese” turtles co-joined at birth.

Lally believes his two-headed albino snake to be the only two-headed albino animal of any kind. Though he did not disclose the amount he paid for the snake, he indicated that he paid more cash for the snake than he did for a brand-new Toyota Tundra earlier this year &045; plus he gave the snake owner two of his two-headed turtles.

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Lally assures visitors to his exhibit that in all cases, both heads of the animals are real. Both heads eat and drink as normally as animals with only one head.

&uot;People assume pesticides cause this (mutation),” said Lally, but he said that was not the case. Another misconception people sometimes have is that the animals are simply bred that way, which he calls impossible. He said that two-headedness occurs when a fertilized egg fails to split completely.

“You can breed albinism, but not two-headedness,” he said.

Lally’s display didn’t always include mutants. Originally, it was a typical reptile exhibit. The 1995 addition of a two-headed rattlesnake named “Double Trouble,” however, drew so much interest that Lally went into “oddities.” The rattlesnake was part of Lally’s exhibit for more than four years and got Lally an invitation from Jay Leno to be a guest on The Tonight Show, before the snake died of natural causes. Lally had to decline the offer due to a previous commitment. Double Trouble remains part of the exhibit, however, along with two other preserved specimens: a western diamondback rattlesnake more than seven feet long and a two-headed monkey skeleton &045; the only mammal in the exhibit.

The exhibit is located in the midway area near the Hollandale Christian School food stand and Lions Bingo stand. The cost for the attraction is $1 per person. Lally said the exhibit draws about 100 people per day.