Pets
World’s oldest two-headed tortoise celebrates his 25th birthday and sets world record
Janus the two-headed turtle has two very distinct personalities.
D.G. Sciortino
09.30.22

Though Janus has two heads that house two separate personalities, he only has one name.

Janus, the two-headed turtle, has wowed people for over two decades.

Now the world record-holding, oldest living two-headed turtled is celebrating his 25th birthday.

Janus was born at the Geneva Natural History Museum of Switzerland in 1997. He is now the museum’s official mascot.

He has two hearts and two pairs of lungs.

Both of Janus’ heads share the same digestive system. His right head controls his legs on the right side of his shell and his left head controls their left side.

“His movements are not fully coordinated, the two heads do not always agree on the direction and sometimes try to take opposite directions,” Bourgoin told euronews.

Janus also has two very different personalities. His caretaker Angelica Bourgoin says that one of Janus’ heads is definitely greedier than the other.

“The right head is more curious, more awake, it has a much stronger personality. The left head is more passive and loves to eat,” Bourgoin told Reuters.

Bourgoin and her team believe he is the oldest bicephalic tortoise in the world.

Janus would be unable to survive in the wild since he can’t retract his heads back into his shell.

This prevents him from being able to hide from predators. So, Janus now lives the life of a very pampered turtle. He eats only organic produce, though one of his heads prefers endives and the other carrots.

Janus also gets daily massages and bathes in green tea and chamomile. He loves to go for regular walks for exercise. He also likes to listen to music. It helps to cheer him up.

Sometimes he’ll even ride around on his custom skateboard like a cool guy.

“I think it’s because of the attention we give him and our devotion that he’s still here today,” said Bourgoin.

The only thing that Janus doesn’t have is privacy. He’s under constant surveillance to make sure he doesn’t flip over.

This could be fatal to Janus.

Janus is a fighter, though. He already survived a bladder stone operation in 2020. Sometimes he does need some petroleum jelly rubbed on his heads.

They get sore when they rub together. Janus is part of the greek spurt-thighed tortoise species, according to ZME Science.

These tortoises are known to live for more than 120 years and even up to 200 years in their natural settings.

That life span is significantly decreased to 50 or 100 years in captivity as pets.

Even though Janus is a Greek tortoise, he is named after the Roman God.

Janus is a two-faced Roman deity that had two different personalities and is known as a god of beginnings, gates and doorways, transitions, duality, and endings, according to Wikipedia.

Janus got some extra pampering on his 25th birthday at the museum where visitors can come and see him.

Learn more about Janus the tortoise and his two heads in the video below.

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By D.G. Sciortino
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D.G. is a contributing writer in Shareably. She's based in Connecticut and can be reached at [email protected]
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