aka the Northern Snakehead
This top-level predator from China has made its way to American waterways where it can wreak havoc on a lake's natural ecosystem. Described as having the head of a snake and the teeth of a shark, this invasive fish can dissimate native species with its ravenous appetite and supernatural breeding abilities.
See the Snakehead in action in G.M. Moore's Snakehead Invasion.
Females release up to 15,000 eggs per spawn, which can occur from one to five times a year.
Snakeheads can "breathe air" and can live for short stents out of water as long as they remain moist.
They are capable of moving through swampy conditions, shallow water and even semi-fluid mud, making the threat of reaching new waterways greater.
Snakeheads can survive and adapt to a wide range of water temperatures. Neither the warm water of the South or the cold water of the North can stop them from settling in as a new resident.
Snakeheads are thrust predators, eating and ingesting their prey whole.
They are a formidible foe reported to be able to naw through steel mesh, crack glass and bite off a human hand.
Under federal law, the importation and interstate transportation of these fish is prohibited. Maximum criminal penalities are 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine for individuals and a $500,000 for organizations.
Snakehead or Bowfin?
This video, from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, highlights the differences between a bowfin fish, native to Wisconsin, and the snakehead, an invasive species. Anglers sometimes mistake snakeheads for native bowfin, otherwise known as dogfish.
Wisconsin's freshwater king, the Muskie, is one of the snakehead's few natural predators in the United States, where it can out-compete native fish for food and space.
Snakeheads are sold in the United States as food in Asian markets and as pets. A baby snakehead will grow to eventually eat up to $8 in goldfish a day. Many snakeheads found in U.S. waters are thought to be former pets, released by owners who could no longer feed them.