A serpent of a harmless nature, being destitute of those fangs which prepare the venom in similar animals. It moves backwards and forwards with equal facility, and each extremity of his body is of an equal thickness, which has given occasion to the story that this animal has [two] heads. Lucan in his poem gives us a poetical description of this and several other serpents and snakes found in Lybia, in which elegance of language, beauty of versification, and liveliness of fancy, have perhaps a greater claim than truth to the admiration of the reader.
“With hissings fierce, dire Amphisbænas rear
Their double heads, and rouse the soldier’s fear.
Eager he flies: more eager they pursue;
On ev’ry side their onset quick renew;
With equal swiftness face or shun the prey;
And follow fast when thought to run away.
Thus on the looms the busy shuttles glide,
Alternate fly, and shoot at either side.”
This serpent is covered with a hard skin of an earthy colour, and has been found also in South America.