Northern Snakehead

Northern Snakehead

Channa argus

About This Animal

SIZE: They can grow up to 4 feet in length

RANGE: It is a native of the Yangtze River basin in China and has been identified as an invasive aquatic fish across the country

HABITAT: Snakeheads are an aquatic fish that live in freshwater streams, rivers, wetlands, or ponds. They prefer low moving to stagnant waters.

DIET: Adults eat fish, crustaceans, small amphibians, reptiles, and some birds and mammals.

ON EXHIBIT: River Journey

Northern snakehead fish have long, narrow bodies with long dorsal and anal fins.  They have a large mouth and protruding jaw with canine-like teeth.  The fish get their name from the enlarged scales, shape and irregular, blotchy coloration on their head that give a snake-like appearance. This species is of concern because it is a top predator and disrupts the natural aquatic feeding structure in ecosystems.

Snakeheads can survive the cold winters and low oxygen environment.  Some are capable of breathing atmospheric oxygen and may be able to jump out of the water to be found on terrestrial land near aquatic systems.