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Two-headed turtle making its new home in St. Augustine

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Updated: 9/23/2013 6:49 pm

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- One of the nation's oldest city's most popular attractions is now growing. Ripley's Believe It or Not! in St. Augustine is welcoming a new member of the family - a two-headed, red-bellied slider turtle.

The turtle is currently only about the size of a quarter. It is very active, but Ripley's says it faces challenges. With two fully-functioning brains, it tends to be indecisive. To help, caretakers are making modifications to the tank such as low water levels, no substrate and fewer obstacles in the tank.

Two-headed turtles occur in one in about every 10,000 turtle births. Researchers say the turtle begins as a twin, which eventually fuse together in the shell. While certain species are more commonly born with two heads, such as yellow-bellied sliders and red-eared sliders, fewer have experienced red-bellied sliders with 'polycephaly.' These turtles rarely survive long in the wild, but in captivity can live long, healthy lives.

Ripley's is hosting a contest to name its newest team member. Elementary students throughout St. John's County are invited to come up with names and submit them to Ripley's. You can join in, too. Simply submit your name choice on the museum's Facebook page.

The new turtle - and its new name - is expected to be on display in the lobby by Sept. 25.

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