• Family: Lepisosteidae (Gars)
• Other Names: None
• Ohio Status: Extirpated
• Adult Size: Typically 4-6 feet long, can reach 10 feet. Usually weighs 50-100 pounds, can reach 300 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Feed primarily on other fish such as gizzard shad or suckers but will take a wide variety of prey items including small mammals and ducks.
Alligator gar are a very large fish with a very short and broad snout compared to other gars. The mouth is filled with sharp needle like teeth and they have very hard diamond shaped scales. These scales do not overlap as they do on most fish but rather are interlocking and form an armor like outer skin. This species of gar has many small spots on the body and a few larger spots on the tale, dorsal and anal fins. This is one of the two largest species of fish found in North America.
Habitat and Habits
Alligator gar are found in very large rivers and associated back waters and marshes. They also can be found in marshes along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico since they are rather tolerant of salt water. This species has never been common in Ohio but was once present in the lower Ohio River in the vicinity of Cincinnati. Only 4 official records of its capture in Ohio exist, the most recent was in 1946 when one was captured at the mouth of White Oak Creek where it joins the Ohio River. Unfortunately because of dams on the Ohio River and destruction of overflow pools and other associated back waters this species can no longer be found in Ohio waters.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Little is known about the reproductive habits of alligator gar. They reportedly spawn in spring but how or in what habitat this is done is poorly understood.