ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) -- A two-headed rat snake had her statewide tour interrupted by a health scare and is now recovering after surgery at the Saint Louis Zoo.

A two-headed western rat snake named Tiger-Lily is recovering well after having surgery at the St. Louis Zoo in March. Tiger-Lily, who is cared for by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), was on a statewide tour and left the Powder Valley Nature Center for the Saint Louis Zoo for surgery on her ovaries.

Concerns were raised after Tiger-Lily sneezed up traces of blood during a feeding the week prior.

“This immediately raised a red flag with our staff, and we quickly got her an appointment with the Animal Health Team at the Saint Louis Zoo,” said MDC Naturalist Lauren Baker. “We appreciate the Saint Louis Zoo’s quick response and expert treatment. I am so happy that our two-headed gal is getting the care she needs, and we’re all wishing her a safe and speedy recovery.”

Veterinarians at the zoo discovered that Tiger-Lily’s ovaries were in pre-ovulatory stasis.

“Under normal circumstances the ovary would grow follicles, then ovulate them as eggs to eventually be laid. In Tiger-Lily’s case, she began the reproductive cycle, but the follicles did not ovulate and instead continued to grow and remain static in her ovary,” said Dr. Michael Warshaw, Staff Veterinarian at the Saint Louis Zoo. “Over time, this led to inflammation and the risk of infection.”

It was determined that the best course of action was to remove the abnormal ovaries.

The surgery was performed on March 11 by the Saint Louis Zoo Endangered Species Research Center and Veterinary Hospital.

Tiger-Lily will not be on display during her recovery, which the zoo estimates will be about a month. After recovery, Tiger-Lily will travel to MDC’s Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City, continuing a statewide tour of MDC sites.

“The Saint Louis Zoo and MDC have a long history of partnering together for the care of Missouri’s native wildlife, and we are happy to have played a part in caring for this exceptional animal,” said Dr. Chris Hanley, Director of Animal Health at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Tiger-Lily was discovered in 2017 in Stone County, Missouri. She is a pair of conjoined identical snake twins that never fully separated, which is considered rare in the wild due to a low survival rate. She is a western rat snake, which is non-venomous and a common native species in Missouri.

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