Invasive Species

Northern Snakehead (Fish)

General Information on the Northern Snakehead

Common Name:

  • Snakehead/Northern Snakehead

Scientific Name:

  • Channa argus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • The Northern Snakehead's head, is on a larger scale than its body (compared to other standard fish)
  • A Northern Snakehead's overall colours on it's body are usually brown, with dark blotches on its skin
  • It has a long thin body
  • Usually the size of a Northern Snakehead can grow up to 47 inches long (rare snakeheads which are born can grow even longer)
  • The regular weight of a Snakehead is up to 15 - 17 pounds (again, rare snakeheads which are born can be heavier and appear larger)
  • The head of a Northern Snakehead is very similar to a snake head (therefore it was named Snakehead)
  • It has sharp piranha like teeth, with a protruding jaw
  • Average lifespan of a Northern Snakehead is 8 - 10 years

When was the Northern Snakehead Last Seen?

Where Did The Species Originate From?:

  • The Northern Snakehead originally was located in East Asia and parts of Africa

Where Can It Be Found in Ontario?:

  • There have been sightings of the Northern Snakehead in Lake Ontario, this is because the Northern Snakehead expands by spreading throughout the Great Lakes watershed

Northern Sankehead's First Offence to Ontario

When Was The Species Introduced to Ontario?:

  • The invasive species known as the Northern Snakehead was not directly introduced to Ontario, however it was found in some American states (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Newyork)
  • After being introduced, the species of fish represented a threat to the Great Lakes of Canada
  • It wasn't soon until multiple people called in saying that while fishing in Canadian waters, they found an unidentified species of fish
  • Later the fish was identified as the Northern Snakehead (hence the name Northern Snakehead when a new breed of these fish were in Northern America)
  • This was issued as a threat since the fish had no natural predators in the Great Lakes, and that would unbalance the ecosystem

Known Accomplices of the Northern Snakehead

Who or What Introduced the Species to its New Habitat?:

  • There is no hard evidence to prove on how the Northern Snakhead came to North America, but there are some ideas that people travelling from parts of Asia and Africa dumped the fish in the lakes within America.
  • It is also said that aquarium owners dumped exotic captive species in local waterways
  • The fish by time then invaded Canada by spreading through the watershed of the Great Lakes of Canada
  • This invasive species possesses a huge threat against Lake Ontario

Crimes the Northern Snakehead has Committed

  • Ecological Damage Caused by Organism:

  • The damage that the invasive species called the Northern Snakehead has caused is aquatic damage caused in both American and Canadian Lakes

Role in the Environment (Ecological Niche):

  • In the aquatic eco system, the role that the Northern Snakehead has is that the Snakehead has no natural predators in the lakes that it is located in
  • Since the Snakehead has no predators, most of the consumption in the lake goes to the Northern Snakehead, even though it shouldn't be located in Northern American lakes
  • This causes a problem and an unbalance in the aquatic ecosystem since most of the other organisms foods are depleting
  • The Northern Snakehead usually consumes: other fish, fish larvae, frogs and toads, invertebrates, insects, small reptiles, and even small birds and reptiles

Attempts of Capturing The Northern Snakehead

How Authorities Have Tried to Control the Species:

  • There are not many ways in controlling the Northern Snakehead since the fish reproduces at a high rate
  • One way in which my decrease the species population is by physical removal of the fish by fishing nets, traps, electrofishing, etc
  • Another way is by biological control, in where you introduce predators which will eat the Northern Snakehead but this method is not 100% successful in removing large quantities of the Northern Snakehead
  • A third way in which to control the Northern Snakehead is inject Rotenone into the water in where the invasive species swim, although this may kill other species in the water such as the endangered organisms
  • The fourth way is to increase the salinity in water, but again, this also affects other species in the water such as the endangered organisms

Reward of the Northern Snakehead

Economic and Health Impacts of the Species:

  • In an economic perception, the major impact that the Northern Snakehead can cause is that it can affect the produce in fish and other organisms in the aquatic ecosystem that we survive on
  • This meaning that if the Northern Snakehead is depleting all resources found in the lakes the food chain will be disrupted, causing a lack of everything we survive on in the aquatic ecosystem
  • A health concern in which might affect everybody is that if the Northern Snakehead spreads throughout the clean water of Canada, then there will be an increase in toxins being put in the clean water, to get rid of the invasive species
  • Causing everyone, even around the world (since Canada supplies other countries with clean water) to get sick

Reward in Capturing a Northern Snakehead:

  • A reward in capturing a female Northern Snakehead (since it can reproduce) is: $1000
  • A reward in capturing a male Northern Snakehead is: $500

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Contact Us

Contact Information:

  • If you have seen a Northern Snakehead in the wild, please contact a toll free Invading Species Hotline at: 1-800-563-7711
  • Or email: to report any suspicious activity in wildlife