florida gar

characteristics

COMMON NAME

Florida Gar

Scientific name

Lepisosteus platyrhincus

LENGTH

2-3 feet, up to 4.5 feet

DIET

Mainly fish, also shrimp, crayfish, and insects

FISH DESCRIPTION

Family: Lepisosteidae 

Distinguishing features: The Florida gar reaches up to 52” (4 ½’) in length and has a long, toothy snout. The adult Florida gar is covered with brown-olive spots. Florida Gar can be distinguished from other gars by the presence of spots on all fins and a shorter snout, whereas the longnose gar will only have spots on their rear fins and have an extremely elongated snout.

Range, habitat and behavior: Florida gar are restricted to Florida and parts of southeastern Georgia. 

Diet: Mainly fish – shad, killifish, bullhead, and sunfishes; also includes shrimp, crayfish, and insects.

Fun facts:

For most of Florida’s springs, the two gar species you are likely to see are Florida gar and longnose gar. Sometimes these species of gar may be misidentified as “alligator gar,” but the range of the alligator gar is primarily west of Florida, in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Alligator gar can be seen in the western panhandle of Florida, but gar seen in most of Florida’s springs are unlikely to be the larger and toothier alligator gar.

The eggs, or “roe”, are highly toxic to many animals, including humans.

All gar can breathe air via their swim bladders, and so can tolerate water with low oxygen. 

When gar hatch, they have an adhesive disc on their faces that keep them attached to the vegetation until they grow to about 1 inch long.

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