Spotted Gar

Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus

Type of Animal:

Streams, swamps, lakes, rivers, brackish waters, surface areas near fallen logs/trees/brush in shallow open waters, surface areas near fallen logs/trees/brush in stagnant backwaters, shoreline banks w/ brush covering/submerged branches, clear pools, creeks, lowland creek backwaters, temperate calm freshwater ponds w/ brush/fallen branches/other debris, clear quiet river/lake/wetland backwaters w/ abundant aquatic vegetation, vegetated calm clear bays, river channels, floodplains, oxbow lakes, densely weeded areas, found at depths of 9.84-16.4 ft

Native to C & E Texas, Oklahoma, SE Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, extreme E Iowa, SE Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, W & N Indiana, N Ohio, W & S Michigan, extreme W Pennsylvania, extreme W New York, Kentucky, far SW Virginia, Tennessee, far W North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, W Georgia, & W Florida. Introduced in other parts of Florida, parts of Texas, & parts of W New York. Also found in S Ontario & used to have wider range there.

Long slender fish w/ elongated mouth/snout w/ needle-like teeth, has dark spots all over, females larger than males

Crustaceans, fish, insects, insect larvae, zooplankton, algae

Status in Wild:

Reintroductions into parts of range, habitat monitoring

Solitary or loose schools of 6-10 fish

Additional Info:

Young: Fry
Group: School
Male: 4 lbs
Female: 6 lbs
4-7 months 

Life Span:
8-18 years

Body Length:
Male: 1.42-2 ft
Female: 1.595-3 ft
Young: 0.75 in

Snout Length:
8.4 in, same for both sexes

Main predators are larger fish, alligators, herons, cottonmouths, eagles, osprey, snapping turtles, & bears.
They’re ambush predators.
Latin name means “bony-scaled provided with eyes.”
While adults occasionally used as food fish, eggs highly toxic to humans. However, adults have high mercury levels & considered cancer risk.
Spawn from February-June w/ multiple males gathering around single female. Single female can lay 1,000-20,000 eggs, which are typically laid in October.
Males mature at 1-1.5 years, females at 1.5-2 years.
They’re fairly popular game fish.
Catch prey by grabbing it in jaws w/ quick sideways lunge.
These fish most active at night.
They grow rapidly.
They’re rather slow swimmers.
In some areas, pollution & habitat alteration are threats.

Fun Fact(s):
These fish have large swim bladders they fill w/ oxygen by swimming to surface to gulp air, allowing them to live in low-oxygen waters.
These fish are believed to have existed back in the Cretaceous Period 145 million years ago.

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