Longnose Gar

Longnose Gar

Lepisosteus osseus

DID YOU KNOW?

Gar remains have been found dating back to the Cretaceous period.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Washington - American Freshwater Ecosystems

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Longnose Gar

The longnose gar is an elongated fish with a long, thin snout full of needle-like teeth perfectly suited for catching prey. Longnose gar are distinguished from other gar species by the long snout, with a length at least 10 times the width.

They are olive-brown or deep green along the back and upper sides, with silver-white bellies. There are a few irregular, large dark spots on the body. The juveniles display scattered spots over both sides, the upper and lower jaws, and on their ventral fins.

Gar are known as "living fossils," as their remains have been found dating back to the Cretaceous period.

Diet

Primarily piscivores (fish eaters), these fish will also feed on frogs, snakes, aquatic turtles, invertebrates, waterfowl, and small mammals.

Size

Northern species such as the longnose, shortnose, and spotted gar rarely exceed 4-5 feet, and can weigh upward of 30 pounds. Alligator gar can grow upward of 8 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds.

Range

Most gar species can be found throughout the Mississippi River basin and its tributaries, and along the waterways of the East Coast in large, slow-moving backwaters and rivers. Alligator gar are found in the states surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Mississippi River. This species commonly inhabits brackish water.

Predators

Young gar are preyed upon by larger fish and aquatic birds and reptiles. Once they reach adulthood, they have very few natural predators other than humans.

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A Note From the Caretaker

Longnose gar are able to use their long, bony, rostrums like chopsticks to pick up small food items off the bottom of the exhibit.