Gar Facts | Kidadl


Gar Facts

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Looking like a cross between an alligator and an eel, the gar fish is a freshwater fish with sharp teeth and a streamlined body. There are seven different species of gar and some are also found to thrive in the shallow coastal waters off the eastern side of the US. Gars are generally large in size with the alligator gar reaching a size of 6 ft (1.8 m). There are cases of some being even larger with the largest gar being almost 9 ft (2.7 m) long! The smaller ones include the Florida gar that grows to merely 34 in (86.3 cm), in length and the needle nose gar that grows to only 16 in. But despite their size and sharp teeth, the gar is a placid fish and does not pose any threat to humans. However, gar eggs are highly toxic and should not be consumed! Read on to know more fun facts about the gar.

You can look up more interesting facts about such fishes like blacktip reef shark and immortal jellyfish.

Gar Facts

What do they prey on?

Atlantic herrings, sprats, sand eels, crustaceans

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Alligator gar: 100 lb (45 kg) Longnose gar: 28.6 lb (13 kg) Spotted gar: 5.3 lb (2.4 kg) Shortnose gar: 3 lb (1.4 kg)

How long are they?

1-10 ft (0.3-3 m)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Bluish-green, silver

Skin Type


What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Inland Wetlands


North America, Mexico




Atractosteus, Lepisosteus





Gar Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a gar?

The gar is a type of freshwater fish.

What class of animal does a gar belong to?

The gar of North America belongs to the class of Actinopterygii or ray-finned fishes.

How many gar are there in the world?

There are seven species of gar across the world. Their total population however has not been exactly estimated.

Where does a gar live?

The gar habitat includes the Mississippi River in the United States, Nuevo León in Mexico, and in Costa Rica. Gars often migrate from lakes and ponds to coastal areas to lay eggs or mate.

What is a gar's habitat?

The gar species is usually found in pools of slow-moving freshwater like lakes, ponds, and swamps. Some gar species are found in the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They generally prefer shallow pools.

Who do gar live with?

The gar fish is primarily a congregation-type fish. Hence, they live in small schools or groups. This also helps these predators in catching prey.

How long does a gar live?

The average lifespan of the gar depends on its species. The alligator gar can live for up to 50 years, with an average lifespan of 20 years. The needle nose gar can live for three to five years. The spotted gar has an average lifespan of 18 years.

How do they reproduce?

The spawning season for gars is seen to last from spring to summer. The gars travel to shallower waters to mate. The female of the species is larger in size than the male. A single female may mate with multiple males. A female can lay an average 10 eggs. The eggs hatch after a period ranging from three days to nine days. Both parents do not remain to raise the kids. Gars do not build any nests, their eggs simply stick to the aquatic plants. Sometimes, the gars may lay eggs in the nest of another fish, who will then take care of the younger gars.

What is their conservation status?

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature Redlist, gars have been classified as animals of Least Concern. However, in some parts of the United States, they have been protected by local laws. For example, in Arkansas and Kentucky, they have been labeled as Endangered.

Gar Fun Facts

What do gar look like?

The gar looks like a shiny, scaly eel with a long, sharp-tooth jaw. Their scales are so strong and tough that their predators cannot bite through them. They have large eyes on either side of their head with dorsal fins located close to their tail. While they are mostly brownish or greyish in color, some species like the spotted gar are brown with black spots.

Whelk seashells are interesting to read about.

How cute are they?

Gars do not look cute as much as they look dangerous. Their spiky teeth are reminiscent of larger predators and their shiny, eel-like body makes them look slippery and hard-to-catch. Alligator gars especially are reminiscent of alligators with their long, beak-like mouth. However, if one finds such animals interesting, they will no doubt find the easy-going gar cute as well.

How do they communicate?

Garfishes use their lateral line to detect water movement and pressure changes. But not much is known about how they communicate within groups. They have eyes and use visual cues. They can also sense chemicals, but the extent of their powers is unknown.

How big is a gar?

Alligator gars can grow as large as 9 ft (2.7 m) in length. The longnose gar can grow up to 5-6 ft (1.5-1.8 m). The shortnose gar grows only 14-24 in (35.5-60.9 cm) in length. An average alligator gar is about the same size as a giant anteater.

How fast can a gar swim?

The gar species is a very slow-moving breed. Their speed is only 1.9 body length per second. However, when they are hunting as predators, the fish become quite active! Their long snout helps them to catch prey, and their long body allows quick turns and movements in the water.

How much does a gar weigh?

The gar's weight depends on its species. The alligator gar being the largest can weigh up to  100 lb (45 kg). The smaller species like the Shortnose gar weighs, on average only 3 lb (1.4 kg). Medium length species like the longnose gar weigh around 50 lb (22.6 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Both males and females are known as gar.

What would you call a baby gar?

A baby gar is known as larva.

What do they eat?

Despite their long mouth, the gar cannot open their mouth wide like alligators. Hence, they eat smaller fishes like catfish, herrings, sprats, eels, carps, and crustaceans.

Are they dangerous?

The alligator gar possesses no threat to humans. Generally, they do not attack humans. As stated, they do not attack anything they cannot eat with their small mouth. However, sometimes fishermen or anglers who have caught gars do face injuries from manhandling them. Further, gar eggs are poisonous for humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Gars are non-threatening. However, their large size makes them non-ideal as pets. Larger aquariums do host gars but they are handled by trained personnel. While gars do not attack humans, they may employ self-defense if they feel threatened. Sometimes, smaller gar fish are sold in pet shops. But, the gar diet is also quite expensive.  Gar eggs are toxic, though it is unlikely that someone will ingest them.

Did you know...

Alligator gars as known as such because, unlike other gar fish teeth, they possess two rows of sharp, jagged teeth. This helps them to better hold prey.

The Florida gar, unlike other species, lacks ganoid scales on its neck.

Do people eat gar?

Gar meat is greatly enjoyed in various parts of North America. Being large fishes, gars provide a lot of boneless meat to enjoy. But the taste is hard to stomach. The armor-like scales need an experienced cook to descale. The bones within their mouth make them difficult to catch as they don't get caught on hooks as easily. As their eggs are toxic, pregnant female fishes are strictly avoided.

What are gar related to?

Alligator gars are often known as living fossils within the scientific community. The little changes in its evolution have helped scientists to link its history back to its ancestors of almost 100 million years! The gar species is related to the bowfin. The bowfin, also known as the swamp trout is a type of freshwater fish with a green mouth. While sometimes known by the common name of garpikes, they are not related to pikes.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including bowfin, or Atlantic Salmon.

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

Written By
Moumita Dutta

Moumita is a multilingual content writer and editor. She has a PostGraduate Diploma in sports management, which enhanced her sports journalism skills, as well as a degree in journalism and mass communication. She's good at writing about sports and sporting heroes. Moumita has worked with many soccer teams and produced match reports, and sports is her primary passion.

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