Fun Mottled Sculpin Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Mottled Sculpin Facts For Kids

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The mottled sculpin, Cottus bairdii, is also known as the common sculpin in North America, especially in New Mexico and Arizona. The mottled sculpin is one of 300 types of sculpin species across the world. Their population is found in freshwater streams or great lakes and rivers. They usually prefer a depth of 0.1 to a maximum of 0.5 m, but can also go as deep as 16 m underwater. Their list of predators consists of northern pikes, herons, as well as brook and brown trout.

Here is a fun fact, these fish can spawn a minimum of 100 eggs into the river or water bodies. The average number of their eggs can go up to 328 eggs per female during the breeding period. Even though the females breed only once a year, the males are considered to be polygynous in nature and spawn with more than three females with a gap of two to three weeks throughout the breeding months. Read on for more facts about mottled sculpins.

To know more about other animals check out the white cloud mountain minnow and the milkfish.

Fun Mottled Sculpin Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Small fish, crustaceans, trout eggs, insect larvae, fish eggs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

3-6 in (7.6-15 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?


Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Herons, Northern Pike, Brown Trout, Water Snakes

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Streams, Freshwater Rivers, River Drainage, Great Lakes


North-america, British Columbia









Mottled Sculpin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Mottled Sculpin?

Mottled sculpin is a fish that belongs to the Cottidae family of animals.

What class of animal does a Mottled Sculpin belong to?

Cottus bairdii is a fish belonging to the Actinopterygii class of animals. This class of animals usually consists of ray-finned fish species.

How many Mottled Sculpins are there in the world?

Although these species of fish are known to be living in abundance, the exact number of their population is not known.

Where does a Mottled Sculpin live?

Mottled sculpins are native to New Mexico and Arizona. They are mainly found in North America in the great lakes of Canada, Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, south of Nevada, Alberta, and British Columbia.

What is a Mottled Sculpin's habitat?

These aquatic creatures are usually found near the bottom of fast-moving water bodies. They live around submerged aquatic vegetation and near the gravel and rocky bottoms of the lakes, rivers, and streams. Usually found in cold and clear waters of the Red River drainage and the Tennessee River drainage, these sculpins can survive in cold to warm waters.

Who do Mottled Sculpins live with?

The mottled sculpin is solitary in nature and does not live with other species. Even then, they might be seen in the vicinity of around one to five of their own kind, especially during the feeding time at night. Only during the breeding season do the males and females stick around together for a month until their babies leave the nest.

How long does a Mottled Sculpin live?

The average lifespan of the mottled sculpin can range from two to four years in the wild. The oldest mottled sculpin ever recorded was six years old.

How do they reproduce?

The mottled sculpin's breeding usually occurs during the spring mainly between the months of April and May. The male is known to be a dominating fish who has his own nest. During the breeding season, these males attract females to their nests. This is done by the male with a few physical actions. The male raises his head and gills and starts to move smoothly in an up and down motion to get the female's attention. The males have a color band on their dorsal fin that appears only during the breeding period which can be recognized by the female. Usually, before agreeing to pair up with a male sculpin, the female checks the size of the male as they are known to devour the smaller females after they lay the eggs.

Once the female agrees, the male pulls the female into the nest which is usually beneath rocks. This is done by biting the female's fin, tail, cheek, or by grabbing their head. After getting the female inside the nest, she releases her eggs into the ceiling of the nest cavity as she turns upside down. The male follows a similar process by lying next to the female and soon locks the nest cavity after around 100 to an average of 328 eggs are released. This blocking of the nest is done by the male so that the female does not escape the nest. The eggs take around 17 days to hatch. Until this time, the male sculpins are known to stay inside the nest. After the eggs hatch, the babies take around 14 days to develop and once done, they leave the nest.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the mottled sculpins belong to the Least Concern category of their Red List.  

Mottled Sculpin Fun Facts

What do Mottled Sculpins look like?

This sculpin has black and brown mottlings on its whole body along with its fins.

These mottled sculpins are small fish with a dark black-brown mottling all over their body. These mottled patterns are on the fin, sides, and their whole back. They have a flattened body which helps them to survive against strong water currents. They have two dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin has black spots both on the front and backside that are used to distinguish them from any other similar species. Their scales are a little prickly, usually present underneath the lateral line of their body which ends just before the second dorsal fin. These sculpins have a whitish belly and the males usually have a dark-colored pattern on the first dorsal fin which appears only during the mating season.

How cute are they?

These mottled sculpins have a dark color with scales that are prickle-like along the lateral line of their body. Their appearance is the reason why they do not look cute.

How do they communicate?

These sculpins, just like other aquatic species, use their visual and tactile abilities to communicate with each other. They use their touch senses and various movements of their body to communicate especially during the breeding season. This is seen when males try to attract females by raising their head and fin or gills, and by moving their body smoothly to let the female know they are interested. Apart from visuals, the aquatic populations of these fish also have a good sense of chemicals and a well-developed sensory system. These two abilities help them locate their prey and understand the water force and movement.

How big is a Mottled Sculpin?

With a size range of 3-6 in (7.6-15 cm), the mottled sculpin is two to three times bigger than the Cultus pygmy sculpin.

How fast can a Mottled Sculpin swim?

Even though they are great swimmers, the mottled sculpins are sedentary in nature, meaning that this species does not travel long distances. Hence, their exact speed of swimming is unknown. They are known to follow a darting style of swimming wherein they dart quickly from one place to another which also looks like they are hopping from one place to another.

How much does a Mottled Sculpin weigh?

Although it is said that the mottled sculpin species might have a weight range of a few ounces to a few pounds the exact weight of this species is not known.

What are their male and female names of the species?

This species of fish do not have a separate name for its male and female populations.

What would you call a baby Mottled Sculpin?

Just like other fish babies, the mottled sculpin babies can be called fry.

What do they eat?

This sculpin species belonging to the river and streams are omnivorous in nature. They sometimes feed on small fish of other species or even small sculpin females. Their diet includes aquatic insect larvae, fish eggs as well as brook trout and brown trout eggs, and crustaceans. A few of them might even feed on the aquatic plants, although they do not totally depend on them for their dietary needs.

Are they eaten by humans?

Mottled sculpins are not eaten by humans. Although there have been reports that suggest that anglers use these fish as bait to attract other fish.

Would they make a good pet?

The populations of this species are rarely considered pets even when they are quite interesting with an ability to change the color and match to a different background. They are not often considered pets mainly because they need cold water and live food. In captivity, it becomes difficult for the owner to keep the temperatures of the water steady as per the fish's preference.

Did you know...

Even though the common name Cottus is derived from the old European or specifically from a Latin word meaning sea scorpion, the mottled sculpin populations living in the rivers, lakes, and streams have many other names. They are known as bullheads, northern muddlers, spoon heads, blobs, as well as muffle jaws, common sculpins, and spring fish.

Are Mottled Sculpins edible?

Most of the sculpins are considered to be delicious. However, humans do not find the species of mottled sculpins edible and there have not been many records of humans eating them. That said, many other species in rivers and streams like the trout, northern pikes, or herons do find these sculpins edible.

Do Mottled Sculpins have teeth?

Although the exact records of their teeth are not thoroughly researched, these fish are said to have fine teeth on both the jaws but no teeth on the palatine bones.

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 the neon tetra and the toadfish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our mottled sculpin coloring pages.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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