Fake five head snake image on Smartphone Screen
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Five Headed Cobra Hoax Images

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Circulating images supposedly depict a five-headed cobra found at Kukke Subrahmanya, a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Karnataka.

Brief Analysis

The images do not show a real five-headed snake. Four of the images are in fact photographs of normal, one-headed snakes that have been altered in an image manipulation program to appear that the snakes are five-headed. One of the images may show a toy or model that has been staged for the photograph.

Example

Subject: Fw: a 5 x headed snake, a cobra too

A 5 headed snake found in Kukke Subramanya, Near Mangalore,Karnataka

Five Headed Cobra 1

Five Headed Cobra 2

Five Headed Cobra 3

 

Subject: A snake found near Kukke Subrahmanya with 5 heads…….

Rare Photo – A snake found near Kukke Subrahmanya with 5 heads…….

Five Headed Cobra 4

Five Headed Cobra 5

 

Detailed Analysis

Messages that are currently circulating via email, blogs, and social networking websites, claim that set of attached images depict a “rare” five-headed Cobra that was found at Kukke Subrahmanya, a Hindu temple located about 105 km from Mangalore in the state of Karnataka, in southern India.

There are two main versions of the messages that contain a different set of five-headed snake images. Both versions claim that the snake was found at Kukke Subrahmanya. A third version, that features the same images shown in the first example above, relocates the “find” to the Tshilidzini Hospital, Venda.
However, none of the five-headed snake pictures are genuine. The three images contained in the first example shown above are in fact nothing more than digitally manipulated versions of a set of photographs that show a normal, one-headed cobra. The following photographs, which have been published on a number of websites, show the original source images used to create the fake five-headed snake images:

One Headed Cobra 1 One Headed Cobra 2 One Headed Cobra 3
Photo Credit: Tien Chiu

The original photographs were taken at a snake farm in Thailand in 2003 by blogger, Tien Chiu. I sent an email to Tien Chiu asking about the photographs and she responded that she indeed took the photographs but the snake was definitely not five-headed.

It seems that someone has used Tien Chiu’s photographs as the source images for the five-headed snake hoax without her permission or knowledge.

The first image shown in the second example above is also clearly manipulated from a photograph of a normal one-headed cobra. The following close-up screenshot of the image shows how the snake’s head in the original photograph was replicated and joined together to create the five-headed manipulation:

Cobra Close up

The second image in the second example above may also be a manipulated photograph. However, the strange colouration and shape of the “snake” suggest that it may actually be a model or a toy that has been placed in the water for the photograph. Moreover, although the message suggests that the two images show the same, five-headed snake, it is very clear that the second image does not depict the same snake that is shown in the first image.

Thus, the supposed five-headed snake shown in these images represents nothing more than the fairly amateurish “photoshopping” work of some unknown prankster. The hoax photographs have circulated widely in India, perhaps accelerated by the fact that a five-headed snake god known as Nagaraja is part of that nation’s cultural and religious heritage.

The occurrence of animals, including snakes, with more than one head is not uncommon. The condition is known as Polycephaly. However, while bicephalic (two-headed) or tricephalic (three-headed) animals have been well-documented, there are no credible reports of animals with more than three heads. Animals with more than three heads abound in mythology, but do not exist in the real world.

Editor’s Note:
Thank you to Tien Chiu for her response to my enquiry and for permission to republish her photographs in the above article.
 


Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer