Janus, a two-headed Greek tortoise and mascot of the Geneva Natural History Museum, is 25 years old.
(September 3, 2022).- The tortoise has two heads, two hearts, two pairs of lungs and two stomachs. It is the oldest known double-headed tortoise in the world.
“Even in captivity, reaching the age of 25 with such a deformity is extraordinary,” said the museum’s director Arnaud Maeder on Saturday.
For his birthday, Janus was given a few flowers – a favourite delicacy – to munch.
In the wild, Janus’ life expectancy would be extremely short, according to Maeder. The animal does not have enough space to retract its two heads into its shell and would fall victim to the first predator that comes along. It is also impossible for it to get back on its feet once toppled.
Two caretakers take it in turns to give Janus his daily bath, food and exercise. The tortoise also has regular appointments with the vet. Recently, a large urinary stone was found in his bladder. Janus had to be taken to the veterinary hospital in Zurich to have it removed. The operation was so unusual that it was presented at an international symposium.
In the wild, Greek tortoises can live up to 40 to 50 years. In captivity, they can easily reach 60 years and some specimens are even a hundred years old. They are native to the Mediterranean region and are threatened by animal trafficking for the exotic pet trade.