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Gars: Lepisosteiformes

Spotted Gar (lepisosteus Oculatus): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Spotted gars can be as long as 44 inches (112 centimeters). They have many dark spots on the body, head, and fins. Adults have a series of small bony plates on the bottom. Females have been reported to have longer snouts than males.

Geographic range: Spotted gars live in North America from the southern shores of the Great Lakes in the north to the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico and from northern Mexico to northwestern Florida.

Habitat: Spotted gars live in quiet, clear waters with much plant life. Some live in salty water along the Gulf of Mexico.

Diet: Spotted gars feed mainly on fishes but also may eat crabs and crayfishes.

Spotted gars can be as long as 44 inches (112 centimeters). (Garold W. Sneegas. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: Spotted gars swim slowly unless they are hunting for prey. They spawn in shallow freshwater. The newly hatched larvae have an adhesive pad on the head that allows them to adhere, or stick, to the bottom or objects on the bottom.

Spotted gars and people: People fish for spotted gars and collect them for aquariums.

Conservation status: Spotted gars are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Berra, Tim M. Freshwater Fish Distribution. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2001.

Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Ricciuti, Edward R. Fish. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch, 1993.

Schultz, Ken. Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Freshwater Fish. New York: Wiley, 2004.

Web sites:

Moore, Abby. "Spotted Gar." WhoZoo. http://www.whozoo.org/Intro2001/abbymoor/AEM_spottedgar.htm (accessed on August 30, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesGars: Lepisosteiformes - Behavior And Reproduction, Gars And People, Spotted Gar (lepisosteus Oculatus): Species Account - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS