Amphisbaenas are magical snakes that have a head at each end of their body.
Amphisbaenas look like very large vipers, often reach lengths of 14 feet, weighing upwards of 250 pounds, but specimens of nearly twice that size have been spotted along the northern shores of the Inner Sea. The one thing that separates them from other oversized snakes is that they have two heads, one at each end of their body. Amphisbaena scales tend to be a very dark bluish-black colour.
The two-headed snake is the most common variant of amphisbaena, but the term also refers to other creatures with a head on each ends of their bodies. Reports occasionally emerge of amphisbaenas with traits such as the bodies of lizards, clawed feet, or feathered wings. Although these reports are typically dismissed as rumors, they continue to persist.c
Habitat and ecology
Amphisbaenas are predators that feed primarily on rabbits, foxes, birds, and small deer, and will also prey on humanoids if presented with the opportunity. They subdue prey with their poison, which is powerful enough to kill a healthy dwarf. They are highly territorial and will attack any creature that approaches their lairs, regardless of the intruder's size. They move in manner similar to that of sidewinder snakes, throwing one half of their body forward at a time and anchoring themselves by keeping one head on the ground at all times.
Unlike most snakes, amphisbaenas are very aggressive, with both heads able to act independently. They attack with quick, deadly venomous bites, whirling and twisting so their attacks can come from any direction, which keeps their opponents on guard. Amphisbaenas lay eggs similar to mundane snakes, and while these eggs can fetch a decent price at market, amphisbaenas are exceptionally difficult creatures to train.
Amphisbaenas are valued for their poison, which when consumed in controlled amounts has valuable healing properties. Pregnant women are sometimes advised to drink small, dilute doses of this venom to help ensure a healthy pregnancy, while amphisbaena venom mixed with herbs and oil creates a poultice used to dull aches and pains. Due to the widespread use of amphisbaena venom in medicine, the image of these creatures has become associated with healing and alchemy. Images of amphisbaenas are common in labels for medicines, annotations in herbalist records, and illustrations in medical texts.
Due to their immunity to petrification, amphisbaenas are often kept as pets by medusas. Medusas who keep amphisbaenas often treat the snakes as treasured companions or even surrogate children.
- Wolfgang Baur et al. (2010). Bestiary 2 (First Edition), p. 25. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-268-5
- Anson Caralya. (2008). Treasure of Chimera Cove, p. 25. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-119-0
- Logan Bonner, et al. (2021). Bestiary 3 (Second Edition), p. 15. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-312-6