RANGER RICK

Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari

Ranger Rick’s Backyard Safari is bringing together kids, nature and fun. Come with a sense of adventure. Leave inspired to care for the wildlife in your own backyard!

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Animal Keeper

Animal Keeper Updates

Get a peek behind the scenes of the Aquarium’s Husbandry department. Read their weekly animal updates and get an insider’s look at caring for over 10,000 animals and plants.

ANIMAL UPDATES
FISHES

Alligator Gar

Atractosteus spatula

ON EXHIBIT: River Giants exhibit in River Journey

Alligator Gar

FUN FACTS
This North American fish can reach lengths of up to 10 feet in the wild. These toothy fish can attain beastly sizes. In 2011, an alligator gar was caught that tipped the scales at an astounding 327 pounds! According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, this was the largest alligator gar ever caught, beating a 302-pound gar caught in 1963. 

CONSERVATION
Recent surveys suggest populations are far below historic levels and could be declining further. In some northern states, they are believed to have been extirpated or reduced in number to non- viable populations requiring reintroductions through stockings in some locations. For these reasons they have been identified as an imperiled species by the American Fisheries Society and a focal species of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Numerous states have already or are in the process of increasing conservation and management through regulation, habitat restoration and stocking.


About This Animal

SIZE: Up to 10 feet in the wild

RANGE: Found in the waters of the Mississippi River basin from southwestern Ohio and southern Illinois south to the Gulf of Mexico.

HABITAT: Freshwater; brackish

DIET: Juveniles feed on plankton, invertebrates, amphibians, and fish before transitioning to almost exclusively fish.