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DISCLAIMER: I'm new to this site and still figuring things out, this is my first question I've asked, so bear with me.

Alright, this is a little hard to describe. This story I'm writing includes a tiger that was experimented on and had a living cobra replace its tail, with the cobra still alive and able to move around (without detaching from the tiger, of course)

the way I initially scientifically imagined it, (I am not a scientist in any way, shape, or form, I just tried to think about how this could logically happen in our world) was the cobra's insides were 'fused' with the tiger's insides in a way where the cobra and the tiger were both still alive, but I haven't gotten too deep into the biology of it and I was curious to see anyone else's thoughts?

This is a little specific, but I tried my best to explain it. Once again, I'm new to this site and this is my first ever question, so I apologize if what I said didn't make much sense, like I said, I tried my best to explain.)

edit: thanks for everyone's responses! i should clarify a few things that some people have asked: The tiger's tailbone basically has been fused into the cobra's spine, i guess? and some nerves, muscles, and other things, have been artificially made by the people who experimented, and were used to fill in some holes that the tiger's and cobra's parts did not fill in so they could be properly attached, and the cobra and tiger are not piloted by the same brain, they are still two different beings however, their minds have been altered a little to make sure they don't attack eachother, or mind eachother at all for that matter, which I personally hadn't really thought about until i posted this question. (HERE FROM EDIT 2! I DID RESEARCH AND I'M NOT REALLY SURE IF MIND MANIPULATION IS POSSIBLE FOR LARGER ANIMALS BUT I FOUND OUT IT CAN BE DONE WITH BUGS.) I honestly hadn't thought about the cobra molting at all, either, and i honestly have no idea how that'd work, either.

Also, yeah, i probably should have done some research before i posted this, but it's a little awkward to have to explain to someone why 'could a cobra and tiger be sewn together without any biological issues occuring' is in your search history, y'know?

This concept is actually for a partially-edgy OC of mine, and i never really intended it to be realistic, i only posted this here because i wanted to see if it WAS realistic. I guess not, lol.

Again, thanks for everyone's responses! i wasn't expecting much. I'll probably update this time to time as i get more replies.

edit 2: Clarifying more things.

I imagine the snake is SOMEHOW biologically engineered to have mammalian blood so the tiger and cobra's blood match, and i HAVE done research on that but i can't find anything saying that it can be done or not.

The scientists made the tiger/cobra abomination in hopes to make a "scientific breakthrough" and "prove to the world what biology and science can do" and the tiger/cobra ends up getting abandoned in a parking lot somewhere. The scientists got arrested.

Thank you for the feedback!

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    $\begingroup$ This can be done today with super glue. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Dec 11 '19 at 3:47
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    $\begingroup$ All these answers are nice but... Why would the Cobra not sting the Tiger before immune reactions $\endgroup$ – Michael Mano Dec 11 '19 at 4:47
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelMano the snake had a somewhat lonely childhood it filled with books and stories. This gross mistreatment of her is just the sad conclusion of a sad life. Better to end it now and bite the tiger... But wait... is that a goat? The snake thinks it heard a goat bleating. Maybe it's the post-op confusion but it might be a goat. Could it be? The snake perks up. The books, the stories. She remembers. Her favourite out of all of them. She dreamt of it, maybe now she can be it. Her hero. The chimera! These crazy humans might just be trying to make her into what she always looked up to. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Dec 11 '19 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ Claw - consider editing the question so it addresses the following issues - most answers below have different takes on this: What type of connection do you need here? - is it enough that both creatures are alive, but do not share fluids / neural connections / skin / bone structure etc. or are some of these are shared? Are they expected to act as a single organism (either cooperatively or with one - likely the tiger - in control)? Do they share sensations? Do they refrain from attacking each other? $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Dec 11 '19 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ You should run a simulation first (i.e. watching a tabby cat interacting with her standard tail). $\endgroup$ – jvb Dec 11 '19 at 18:04

11 Answers 11

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No.

First, it is impossible because of the reason given by L.Dutch: you will provoke an immune reaction. This could in theory be countered by creating a chimera, or by some other means (early exposure of embryo to antigens, followed by surgery in the adolescent/adult).

But also, snake blood and mammal blood are, regardless of immune reactions, inherently incompatible. Snake blood contains almost twice as much NaCl and up to 20 times as much calcium during estrus, for example (also 2-3 times more inorganic phosphor and amino acids, considerably more fat, but only half as much glucose, so a snake kept alive with mammal blood would be diabetic!).

Snake blood doesn't even have the same haemoglobin as mammal blood (with different biochemical properties such as O2 affinity). Or, the same type of blood cells at all, for that matter. As you probably know, our erythrocytes (and platelets the like) lose their nucleus when maturing. Well, blood cells in reptilians don't. Reptilian blood cells live years, too, whereas mammal blood cells live some dozen days.

So, blood, or the cells within, are not even roughly the same, or similar.

That... very likely... cannot work.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is the best answer that address the incompatibilities between reptiles and mammals. $\endgroup$ – Stefano Balzarotti Dec 11 '19 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanoBalzarotti Really? I though the superglue answer did lol $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Dec 11 '19 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ [+] Diabetes in the snake! Oh that's good ~ I'll have to look at the effects of that, no matter how big it's pancreas grows it's not going to be able to outdo the tigers greater body mass & its production of sugary blood ~ so no linkage of blood supply may be mandated, means both will have to be fed independently ~ that's going to be a bit of a bind ;) maybe we can route a blood vessel from the amputated tiger tail to the snakes gut to drip feed it (will need to find a way to insure there's no wash back polluting the tigers blood with snake gut bacteria of course). $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Dec 12 '19 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it be possible if they don't share any bloodvessels? What happens when they would get stiched together? The snake would have to get fed seperately from the tiger. $\endgroup$ – StefanJanssen Dec 12 '19 at 9:37
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanJanssen: That'll effectively mean one is back at the "superglue idea" (or "just stitch 'em" idea). Which would work blood-wise (no sharing) but has other problems, not just nutrition and excretion. A snake that isn't prevented from doing so (e.g. by being attached to a blood vessel) will do what snakes do, it will molt and leave the tiger with an empty piece of snakeskin on its rear. Unless you stitch them together by driving something thick and sturdy through the snake's belly, which will prevent it from leaving its skin (but may affect its ability to function as living entity). $\endgroup$ – Damon Dec 12 '19 at 10:29
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No, if you stick to our current understanding of physiology and biology.

The reason is pretty simple: immune reaction.

In order to protect itself from any outer attack, every animal has an internal army which get trained in recognizing the "self" from the "non self". Any element which is recognize as "non self" will be fought to death.

Therefore planting an organism A on an organism B will lead to a massive immune reaction and subsequent death of both. This is the very reason we have to be careful when picking an organ donor for transplant and whoever gets one has to follow a life long immuno-suppressing therapy.

Vegetables are a bit different under this point of view: you can join an apple and a pear and they will go on fine, but you talk about animals.

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    $\begingroup$ oh hey thats my answer too! $\endgroup$ – michael griffin Dec 11 '19 at 3:53
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    $\begingroup$ @michaelgriffin, sorry, too slow. I call dibs ;) $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Dec 11 '19 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ You can join an apple and a pear, but you can't join an apple and a potato. Immune system is big trouble but it can be solved. There are some experiments to create chimera to grow up human organs replacements in animals. The problem here is that a tiger and a snake are too different. A reptile and a mammal, completely different metabolism. $\endgroup$ – Stefano Balzarotti Dec 11 '19 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Daniel agreed, but that also means the Cobra would have to feed itself independently, and that will be hard being fixed to a Tiger.. $\endgroup$ – Kaddath Dec 11 '19 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ Yea, the "social" problems of these animals are a whole other story. Also I don´t think a Cobra is in a good position physiologically. hanging upside down constantly, and having to absorb all of the movements of lions back end. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Dec 11 '19 at 14:12
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Yes.

The way the question is phrased, it doesn’t seem like there necessarily needs to be any exchange of blood or organic material between the two animals. Perhaps you could just cut off the tail, let the wound heal and then stitch the two animals together. They would just be two seperate animals that are stuck together. As long as the snake could find a way to feed while being attached to the tiger it could probably stay alive. Maybe it could just feed on passing rodents while the tiger sleeps?

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    $\begingroup$ Good point, but now tell me how the snake can excrete and what will happen when it will have to do molting. $\endgroup$ – Stefano Balzarotti Dec 11 '19 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanoBalzarotti but OP did not specify for how long they need to stay alive, right? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Dec 11 '19 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanoBalzarotti: Regarding excretion: a snake doesn’t excrete through the tip of its tail, but through a cloaca, placed about where you’d expect if you imagine the snake having legs to be a lizard. So the snake just has to be intact to a little behind the cloaca. Moulting, yes, is a little trickier: it could certainly be handled with outside human help cutting the old skin off; probably it can be handled behaviourally somehow, e.g. by scratching against a tree. $\endgroup$ – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Dec 12 '19 at 7:52
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    $\begingroup$ No need to amputate the tiger's tail if you just duck-tape the cobra to it. Just remember to leave an opening for the vent. $\endgroup$ – Stephen M. Webb Dec 12 '19 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ @StephenM.Webb may I suggest snake-tape or tiger-tape instead? Taping things to ducks would be a new question $\endgroup$ – Pureferret Dec 13 '19 at 12:20
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Actually, yes it is.

But you couldn't do it without a lot of preparation.

First you'd have to grow two genetic chimera from fetuses.

  1. A tiger with a few cobra cells introduced early in fetal development.

  2. A cobra with a few tiger cells introduced early in fetal development.

The cells introduced into each will need to be harvested from the other while still in the womb (& egg).

Done & timed right both animals will share no characteristics of the other when born (& hatched) as the guest cells will go native in the host organism taking all their cues from it.

This means there will be no immune response from either animal to the others tissues or blood.

Within the limits of the available medical equipment & the surgeons skill you can then graft any part of one to the other, including chop off the tiger's tail, the end of the cobra's & sew them together.

Perhaps the only bit you need to get (unexpectedly?) creative about is the snakes cloaca as its tail is probably thinner below it than you want so you'll need to surgically reposition it to above the place you want to trim it's tail (but that hardly seems a particularly difficult operation beyond the ken of a good surgical vet these days, so shouldn't be a problem).

Other than that the operation shouldn't be any more difficult or unexpected than a limb transplant, connecting blood vessels, nerves, muscle, tissue & bone (fitting vertebra together in this case).

What you'll effectively have then is a trans-species siamese twin sharing no major organs but with shared blood flow & (to some extent) a shared nervous system with their spinal cords connected at their bases, each with a seperate head, mouth, stomach & anus.

You'll then probably have issues with neither animal being happy with the arrangement & trying to bite each other but that isn't within the purview of your question so I'm not going to worry about that.

They were alive when they left surgery, care of your new pet is your responsibility after that ;)

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Dec 20 '19 at 1:37
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It would work only in the most trivial sense of just gluing the snake on, as the comment says. If you glued it on, the snake would have to feed itself separately from the tiger, which seems kind of hard for it to do when glued to a tiger's ass.

If you tried to connect their bloodstream, at least one would surely die. The biology and chemistry of blood is completely different and cross-circulating between them wouldn't work. The tiger's immune system would attack the snake's blood and the snake's body when the tiger blood gets into the snake. Also connecting the snake to the tiger's arteries could cause dangerously low or high blood pressure to the snake.

But by far the biggest problem I see is that regardless of how you attach it, the snake would get really mad and bite the tiger, and both would die. The tiger would also get mad and attack the snake. Even ordinary cats decide to attack and bite their own tails once in a while.

Lastly, tigers are endangered animals and shouldn't be subjected to cruel, poorly thought-out experiments with no clear purpose.

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Well, it should not be impossible, you are asking for a chimera (without the goat), but you have to take care of a few things.

As mentioned by L.Dutch in his answer, their immunity is a big issue, so make sure they are not connected directly, like cut the bottom of the snake and stitch it to the tail, It won't happen.

Now, what does the snake needs for survival, It needs food, oxygen and needs to excrete, all three things can be provided given that placenta in mother's womb does the same thing, and tigers are mammals, so they have specifics to generate a placenta.

This placenta should provide the snake whatever it needs to stay alive, and it also needs to shed its skin periodically, which should be an automated process, and the tiger's lick can get it off.

What the tiger needs, It uses its tail to keep balance, and it defiantly has the required muscles and brain signal to signal its tail, so there should be a way such that tiger brain signals can control snakes body to keep its balance, while simultaneously, the snake can control itself too, but snake's signals should be lesser priority than the tiger.

Then, there should not be any conflict between the two, the snake must not bite the tiger (It is way cooler for the cobra to still be venomous) and the tiger must not kill the cobra too, and maybe, they both can find a way to live and work together. And at last, the tiger should be immune to the snake's venom just in case of accidental bites.

So, all in all, some really high tech, handwavium tech, nanotech, and biology is required to get this all done.

Additional features: If you can get the brains of these two to work incoherence, there are a lot of benefits like Tiger now can have an infrared vision, No ambushing of the tiger from behind, an upper hand for the tiger in any battle with the help of snake.

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  • $\begingroup$ 'all in all, some really high tech, handwavium tech, nanotech, and biology is required' : you'd think so wouldn't you, actually not though, have a gander at my answer, it's all stuff well within our current skill set, just a matter of pulling it all together, I was surprised myself when I actually sat down to think about it & found it all there ;) $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Dec 11 '19 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ Worth pointing out that your "chimera" is the greek mithological creature [made of lion, goat, and snake britannica.com/topic/Chimera-Greek-mythology ], and the origin of the name of the "chimera" [man-made present-day creature, or biological accident like different-coloured eyes en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterochromia_iridum or pets with left/right different colour/pattern] in the other answers. $\endgroup$ – user3445853 Dec 11 '19 at 14:40
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Maybe, if it's a setting where Mad Science can bend the rules of reality.

This question isn't tagged "science based", so I'm not going to give an answer based on modern, conventional science.

In some settings, such as the comic Girl Genius or the RPG Mage: the Awakening, mad scientists are capable of warping reality so that reality begins to conform to their mad theories. A tiger with a snake for a tail? Sure! Strap them to an operating table, pump their veins full of alchemical reagants, perform the surgery, and then call down the lightning to revivify them!

All those men at the university laughed at you, but who is laughing now! You'll take your freakish abomination against nature and rub it in all of their faces!

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This is my first answer here, so bear with me.

If you need to know whether this is really possible, it isn't and please don't try it. If you need to make it happen for story purposes, you can easily build a world not much different from our own in which it does.

Imagine this world has a special, perhaps magical, adhesive tape which fixes everything. People use it in their homes, to fix their cars, to remove warts, and for all sorts of other purposes. Engineers like it especially and it has this sort of cult-like following centered around the many uses it has.

Someone has removed the tail from a tiger and replaced it with a cobra, using this magical tape.

Why would somebody perform this extremely misguided scientific experiment? It's mad science; they want to discover the limits of the tape, if indeeed they exist.

Why doesn't the snake just shed its skin and escape? Because the tape is that good.

Why doesn't the snake just bite the tiger and kill it? The tape has been wrapped in a spiral around the snake's body so it can't bend around and bite the tiger.

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  • $\begingroup$ If OP had wanted a magic based answer, you would see the magic tag at the bottom of the question. That tag isn't there, therefore no magic tape, sorry. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Dec 12 '19 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the clarification, I did not know that. In fairness, I only said the tape was "perhaps magical", and it does exist in our world. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Hagge Dec 12 '19 at 10:12
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for suggesting duct tape without actually mentioning duct tape. $\endgroup$ – barbecue Dec 13 '19 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ I actually planned on just making an AU where this is possible after seeing all these replies, and no i did not plan on trying this out why the heck would i $\endgroup$ – Claw Dec 13 '19 at 19:18
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Yes (or at least, contradicting some stated counterarguments).

Consider the deep-sea angler fishes (I often do!): The large ones (say to 30cm/foot long) are female and have a light-emitting lure (as in the Finding Nemo sequence where Dory&Marvin find the diver's glasses with a Sydney address). The male ones (say to 5cm/2inch long) are free swimming until they encounter a female.

Living at the dark depths they live, any encounter is rare so their life's mission is quasi fulfilled: The bite the female, hook their blood supply into the female's, let their organs waste away, and plumb their sperm ducts towards the female's ovaries. For the rest of its life, the male is like a wart, an outgrowth on the back of the female and fertilizes her eggs; 2-3 males may be attached to a female. [Other species are smaller/larger; and monkfish are similar-shaped and closely related, but don't engage in this rigmarole.]

So, the argument that automatically immuno-incompatibility would stop the project isn't correct. There will be problems as your snake and tigers are genetically much much more distant than male and female same-species angler fish. But of the usual needs (food, oxygen, and excretion) are all met through the blood supply obviously. So your snake-tail can actually waste away its organs keeping just brain,skin, teeth, muscles, skeleton, tendons,... and maybe extra-large or extra-potent venom glands?

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    $\begingroup$ Except cobras have not evolved over eons to waste away their internal organs when attached to tigers. $\endgroup$ – Paul Sinclair Dec 11 '19 at 17:49
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My logical conclusion is that the bacteria that is good for the tiger and bacteria that is good for the cobra will mix and just make them both sick. Not to mention the immune systems in their bodies will notice that this part of the body is completely unrecognizable, and will try to kill that thing. Hell, it happens with implanted organs where one person's DNA is fundamentally different from another person's DNA. So when implanted, the immune system will attack the weird new organ because its unrecognizable, even if we need that organ.

We can give people medication to actually lower the immune system's activity, but that commonly puts people into a state where they have to live very, VERY carefully and eat only specific types of foods as to not get sick and die. So even then the cobra tiger will die, even when given a medication that lowers the immune system, because the bacteria from each animal will attack each other animal (Albeit unknowingly thinking the cobra's a tiger and the tiger's a cobra because technically bacteria want to live and not kill its host but it doesn't have the brains to realize its host isn't the thing it thinks it is) and utterly killing them both.

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  • $\begingroup$ why do people be disliking my answer??? $\endgroup$ – michael griffin Dec 11 '19 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ Not a down-voter, but it's a bit of a "wall of text". Try putting in some paragraph breaks, and "I've heard some weird test on rats..." doesn't sound like the start of a well sourced article. "tiger bacteria" and "cobra bacteria" is wrong too - I think you are talking about the tiger (cobra) immune system ; bacteria are a completely different Kingdom. Also, your complete lack of capital letters (except to shout "VERY"). Basically it needs a really thorough editing. $\endgroup$ – Martin Bonner supports Monica Dec 11 '19 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ That's fair. I am right tho right? Also, I meant like, bacteria that live in tigers and bacteria that live in cobras. That is how we get things like bird and cow flu. $\endgroup$ – michael griffin Dec 11 '19 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ i've edited it @MartinBonnersupportsMonica $\endgroup$ – michael griffin Dec 11 '19 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ No you are not right. Bird flu and Cow flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. There is a considerable microbiota living on/in macroscopic animals - but that is not the primary cause of any problems. $\endgroup$ – Martin Bonner supports Monica Dec 11 '19 at 16:19
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Possible. However how long do you think a tiger is going to put up with a cobra invading the space between its hind legs? 30 seconds? As soon as both animals are awake and functioning, you'll have a dead tiger, dead cobra or both.

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