Meet Janus, a two-headed Greek tortoise named after the Roman god with two faces. He was born in Geneva’s Natural History Museum on September 3rd, 1997.
??? Ihr seht richtig: Diese Schildkröte hat zwei Köpfe – und damit lebt Janus, Maskottchen des Naturhistorischen Museums…
As a Greek tortoise, his breed is meant to have an incredibly long lifespan of more than 125 years. However, Janus was born with two heads, and statistically speaking that makes his longevity shrink, especially if he lived in the wild. The tortoise could not hide his head back in his shell like a normal tortoise does when facing danger.
“This is an extremely rare case,” Andreas Schmitz, a researcher in the Department of Herpetology (study of reptiles and amphibians), who looked after Janus from 2005 to 2012, told Tribune De Geneve. “In nature, an animal with such a malformation usually dies quickly, especially because he cannot protect his head in his shell.”
Janus lives at the Geneva’s Natural History Museum where he’s blessed to have the care and dedication of the staff. He follows a strict regimen that has proven to work because it’s allowed him to live 23 years so far.
Let's get ready to shell-ebrate! Two headed museum mascot that turns 23 years old in three weeks and could be the oldest…
Janus takes daily baths, has weekly UV sessions, and is on a diet of lettuce and tomatoes. His terrarium is designed specifically to make sure that he does not harm himself. The tortoise is internationally known and has become the museum’s beloved mascot.
“He is also internationally known in the scientific world and has enormous emotional value for the people of Geneva. When we had to move him to do some work, we were overwhelmed by worried calls asking if he was dead!” Andreas Schmitz told Tribune De Geneve.
Turning 23 years old is an important moment for the Janus because he broke his own previous record of being the oldest two-headed tortoise to have ever lived last year. In fact, the prior record-holder only lived to the age of six so he’s far surpassed them.
“The question that arises today is rather: on the cake, do we put 20 candles or 40, or 20 for each head?” Andreas Schmitz jokingly shared with Tribune De Geneve.