Fun Northern Snakehead Facts For Kids

Devangana Rathore
May 09, 2023 By Devangana Rathore
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
Fun Northern Snakehead facts about a unique species of fish.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

Not all fish look exactly like fish!

The invasive Northern Snakehead is injurious wildlife that is known for its tendencies to be an invasive species. Though this fish is native to parts of Asia and Africa, they had been introduced to parts of the United States in places such as Maryland, and New York.

This has caused great concerns with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S Geological Survey, which are concerned about the fish that are in their native range, as opposed to the injurious wildlife that is the Snakehead.

They will feed on just about anything such as small birds, many dead bodies of a small mammal, all kinds of fish caught in the river mouth, and any other small aquatic creature that can be caught by them. They are speedy swimmers and can travel short distances with ease.

They are frequently caught by fishers as other native people on land in an attempt to reduce their population in any American water body.

If you want to know more about this invasive species from many a New York river, then read on, and do not forget to check out other fish like the lungfish and tetra.

Northern Snakehead Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a northern snakehead?

The Northern Snakehead is a type of fish. This snakehead fish is a native fish as well as invasive species.

What class of animal does a northern snakehead belong to?

The Northern Snakehead belongs to the class of fish.

How many northern snakeheads are there in the world?

Approximately 200,000 Northern Snakehead, Channa argus, are there in the world in locations like New York State, Maryland, and Virginia.

Where does a northern snakehead live?

The Northern Snakehead lives in wetlands. Though a freshwater fish, the Snakehead is noted for its ability to live on land for days at a time. They are found in New York State, Maryland, Virginia, and many a body of water in these areas.

What is a northern snakehead's habitat?

The Northern Snakehead is a type of freshwater fish that can be found in different bodies of water like streams, rivers, wetlands, swamps, marshes with sufficient depth, and ponds (in places like New York State, Maryland, and Virginia). They prefer slow, shallow, or still-moving water with adequate aquatic vegetation and muddy bottom.

These species can breathe ambient oxygen and may be able to leap from the water to land near aquatic systems.

Who do northern snakeheads live with?

This species tends to be social in that it prefers to hunt in groups, and it will only scatter in extreme circumstances, such as when there is a scarcity of food like birds and mammals.

How long does a northern snakehead live?

According to the  Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey, the average lifespan of a Northern Snakehead fish is six to eight years in a suitable range.

How do they reproduce?

Depending on the suitability of conditions, these fish attain sexual maturity within one to three years of age and breed from April to August. They will spawn up to five times.

Each time, these largemouth basses will be seen laying over a thousand buoyant orange-yellow eggs. However, they will lay a lot more eggs at times, up to 50,000 per year.

Northern Snakeheads use bits of foliage to build floating nests to shelter their eggs. Parents have been known to threaten those who come too close to their children for several weeks to protect them.

What is their conservation status?

The survival status of northern snakeheads has not yet been determined by the IUCN. They are not in imminent danger due to their wide range and success in aquaculture, but native species may be vulnerable.

In the United States, the Northern Snakehead, Channa argus, is deemed an endangered species by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and federal departments are collaborating to remove small colonies and keep them from reoccurring - since they are also invasive species.

Northern Snakehead Fun Facts

What do northern snakeheads look like?

Snakehead the Northern fish, named for their elongated bodies, can grow to be three feet long in introduced areas and even larger in their native range. On their lower jaw, they have sharp teeth, with especially sharp and dangerous canine teeth.

Snakeheads are fast swimmers thanks to a long dorsal fin that runs through the middle of their bodies and a powerful anal fin. Scales range in color from golden tan to light brown, with distinct splotches running down the flanks of these species.

Underwater view of a northern snakehead.

How cute are they?

Snakeheads are golden to light brown in appearance, with dark patches on the sides and saddle-like smudges on the back. Blotches in front are likely to be divided into upper and bottom sections, while white streaks in the back are more prone to be continuous.

Juveniles, as well as adults, have almost equal color, which is unusual in snakeheads and can be both cute and terrifying.

How do they communicate?

Northern Snakehead fish can only make a small number of noises. As it feeds and rises to the surface to breathe oxygen, snakehead fish have been heard grunting and clicking. Snakeheads in the north also have excellent vision. These invasive species prefer low-light prey and have been known to target insects and other non-aqueous species outside of water bodies.

How big is a northern snakehead?

The elongated body of the northern snakehead can reach 33 in. Adult bowfin females may reach 30 in, and mature Bowfin males may grow to attain a length of 18-24 in. So Snakehead species are slightly bigger than native bowfin fish.

How fast can a northern snakehead swim?

The fish jumped at around half a foot per second. Research suggests that snakeheads will emerge from bodies of water when conditions are bad to find a better place to live. They can travel short distances at a rapid speed and are caught very rarely due to this.

How much does a northern snakehead weigh?

The average weight of an adult Northern Snakehead fish is 4 kg but weight ranges from 2-8 kg in their natural habitat. Females of these species are taller than males, with a shorter dorsal fin, a smaller snout, and a smaller upper jaw.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The males and females of this native and invasive species have no particular names.

What would you call a baby?

There is no official name for the babies of thisaquatic native fish.

What do they eat?

Northern snakeheads are predatory fish, and invasive species that feed primarily on other frogs, fish, frogs, and several species of freshwater crustaceans, as well as insects. This species feeds on small crustaceans, other fish larvae, and insects small as a juvenile.

Northern snakeheads eat up to 90% of their diet in the form of other fish. Low-light hunting is preferred by this invasive species.

Are they dangerous?

The majority of Northern Snakehead fish would avoid coming into contact with humans. The giant snakehead, which is native to Southeast Asia, has been known to be hostile toward humans who approach their nest. Other snakeheads are less hostile toward humans and do not pose a threat to them.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though this large-mouth fish is aggressive, snakehead fish can still be kept as pets in certain areas, but only under certain conditions. The importation and interstate transportation of live snakeheads are specifically forbidden.

Did you know...

The invasive aquatic fish with sharp teeth, a long dorsal fin, and a large mouth are known in the United States. Snakehead fish are named for their long, cylindrical bodies and large scales on their heads, which give them a snakelike look.

China, Russia, and Korea are where they originated. Snakeheads can be found in the Potomac River and its tributaries like Virginia and Maryland.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists all snakehead species as injurious wildlife species. These species are known to consume many freshwater game fish varieties, like the largemouth bass, in the Potomac River system.

This predatory fish can 'breathe air,' which allows them to live on land and in low-oxygen environments. Since northern snakeheads compete for the same resources as native species, their population can be affected.

This species' infestations have a small number of possible control methods, which differ depending on the location of the infestation. For large infestations, physical removal of the fish using nets, traps, angling, electrofishing, or biological control is needed.

This fish is very common in Asian fish markets, and most of the introductions were probably made for that purpose. However, the northern snakehead was prohibited from being imported or transported across state lines without a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2002.

What is so bad about snakehead fish?

According to several U.S Geological Survey scientists, the aggressive Northern Snakehead fish populations discovered in the Mid-Atlantic region are now raising more worry because it could bring diseases further into the area and spread them to indigenous fish and game.

Are northern snakeheads freshwater fish?

These species are a type of freshwater fish whose populations can be found in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. Snakeheads' populations, however, are highly resistant to changes in salinity, temperature, and diet, and can thrive in a wide range of environments.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes including salmon or megamouth sharks.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Northern Snakehead coloring pages.

Northern Snakehead Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Fish, crustaceans, birds, and mammals

What Type of Animal were they?

Carnivore

Average Litter Size?

15,000

How Much Did They Weigh?

18.4 lb (8.3 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

rivers

Where Do They Live?

china

How Long Were They?

17.3-28.3 in (43.9-71.9 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Actinopterygii

Genus

Channa

Family

Channidae

Scientific Name

Channa argus

What Do They Look Like?

Brown and black

Skin Type

Wet, slimy scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

humans

What is their Conservation Status?

Not Evaluated
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Written by Devangana Rathore

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language, Master of Philosophy

Devangana Rathore picture

Devangana RathoreBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language, Master of Philosophy

Devangana is a highly accomplished content writer and a deep thinker with a Master's degree in Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin. With a wealth of experience in copywriting, she has worked with The Career Coach in Dublin and is constantly looking to enhance her skills through online courses from some of the world's leading universities. Devangana has a strong background in computer science and is also an accomplished editor and social media manager. Her leadership skills were honed during her time as the literacy society president and student president at the University of Delhi.

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Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed

Bachelor of Law

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Abdulqudus MojeedBachelor of Law

A versatile professional with a passion for creative writing and technology. Abdulqudus is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Law from the University of Lagos and has experience as a tutor, intern assistant, and volunteer. He possesses strong organizational skills and is a detail-oriented person.

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