ANIMAL: Spotted Gar Lepisosteus oculatus Type of Animal: Gar Habitat: 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 Location(s): 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. Appearance: Long slender fish w/ elongated mouth/snout w/ needle-like teeth, has dark spots all over, females larger than males Food/Diet: Crustaceans, fish, insects, insect larvae, zooplankton, algae Status in Wild: Stable Conservation: Reintroductions into parts of range, habitat monitoring Lifestyle: Solitary or loose schools of 6-10 fish Additional Info: Called: Male Female Young: Fry Group: School Weight: Male: 4 lbs Female: 6 lbs Gestation: 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.