These carnivorous freshwater fish are the largest in North America. The males are about 10 feet (3 meters) long and the females about 8 feet (2.4 meters), weighing about 200 and 120 pounds (91 and 54 kilograms), respectively. Their mouths are tooth-filled and they have a long snout similar to that of an alligator, hence it’s called the “alligator” gar. They have diamond-shaped scales on their bodies. They favor large, slow rivers, but they can also manage in brackish or salt water. They can also survive above water for about 2 hours.
The parents go their separate ways after mating, and the female lays the eggs alone in a secluded and safe place. The young must survive on their own right after hatching. Young alligator gars are prey to larger fish and therefore have low survival rates. Alligator gar eggs are poisonous to humans if consumed.
Alligator gars prey on fish, waterfowl, and even carrion (the rotting, dead body of an animal) and live land animals that come near the water. They will tackle prey that is much larger than they are, to satisfy their huge appetites. They camouflage well in the murky water, often lurking near reeds and thick marshes, and will then ambush their prey. Alligator gars can survive a few days without food, but once they find it they will eat voraciously to satiate themselves.
Alligator Gar are featured in the following book:
25 River Monsters
The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about Alligator Gars. Details of the videos featured are underneath.
- Kentucky’s Alligator Gar by KYAfield
- Dangerous Encounters: Saving the Alligator Gar by NatGeoWild
- Alligator Gar: Predator Or Prey by Betty Wills