The alligator gar, aka gar fish or garpike, hails from southern United States and on into Mexico. These giant, freshwater fish inhabit reservoirs, lakes, backwaters of lowland rivers, and brackish waters of bayous, estuaries, and bays. Gars are predatory and have quite the appetite. Due to their stable numbers, these fish are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. Although they are still affected by habitat loss (at the hands of dams), overfishing, and water pollution.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Atractosteus spatula
Weight: Up to 350 lbs.
Length: Up to 10 feet
Lifespan: Up to 50+ years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) Gars feed on live and dead fish, crustaceans, insects, and frogs.
2.) They have lots of sharp teeth, but don’t palpate (chew) their food. They only use their teeth to hold onto and position their prey to be swallowed head first… whole.
3.) There are 7 known species of gar, with the alligator gars being the largest, by far.
4.) Even though they can be cathemeral (active both day and night) they tend towards being nocturnal (active at night).
5.) The ganoid scales of alligator gars are so tough that humans have used them for things like arrowheads, luggage, breastplate armor, and even to cover the blades of wooden plows!
But wait, there’s more on the alligator gar!
6.) Spawning season takes place during spring and summer.
7.) Due to their low productivity rate however, loss of habitat could have a drastic effect on gar populations. As it could take them decades to recover from things like overfishing and habitat loss.
Did you know…?
Due to their ability to utilize their swim bladder as a lung, gars can survive in sparsely oxygenated water. They simply gulp air, when O2 is needed. They can even survive out of water for up to 2 hours. As long as they remain moist.
8.) Females lay up to 30,000 eggs.
9.) The male follows the female and fertilizes the laid eggs, on the gravel and underwater vegetation.
10.) The eggs are covered in a poisonous substance that thwarts predators from eating them.
Now a Short Alligator Gar Video!
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