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PLATINUM ALLIGATOR GAR 

Sizes from 14"-17" (Price $3,000)

Predator Info

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Habitat

The alligator gar inhabits large, slow moving rivers, reservoirs, oxbow lakes, bayous and bays, in fresh and brackish water. The alligator gar is the most tolerant gar species of high salinity and occasionally strays into salt water. Young may be seen at the surface in debris such as leaves and twigs. Alligator gar prefer large rivers that have a large overflow floodplane, but these rivers have all but disappeared in North America due to the use of dredging, dams, dikes, and levees.

 

Physical Description

All gars have an elongated, torpedo-shaped body. The caudal fin of the alligator gar is abbreviate-heterocerical, meaning the tail is not symmetrical. The dorsal and anal fins are located very far back on the body. Gars bodies are covered by ganoid scales, which are thick overlapping scales that create a protective covering similar to medieval chainmail. Gars have retained the spiral valve intestine a primitive feature of the digestive system commonly associated with sharks. Gars also have a highly vascularized swim bladder connected to the pharynx by a pneumatic duct. This enables them to gulp air, which aids in facultative air breathing. This allows gar to breathe when there are very low oxygen levels in the water. The alligator gar is distinguished from other gars in the United States by its relatively short, broad snout which has two rows of fang-like teeth in the upper jaw. The inner row of teeth in the upper jaw is palatine and larger than the outer row of teeth. Gars are slow growing fish, with female alligator gars reaching sexual maturity around age 11 and living to age 50. Male alligator gars mature around age 6 and live at least 26 years. Alligator gars commonly grow to a size of 6 1/2ft (2 m) and over 100 lbs. (45kg). But have been reported to grow up to 350 lbs. and around 10 ft (3m) in length. The largest recorded alligator gar comes from the St. Francis River, Arkansas in the 1930's, and weighed 350 lbs (159 kg). 

 

Reproduction

Little is known of the life history of alligator gar. The gonadosomatic index for mature males and females, and female reproductive hormone analysis have indicated that spawning occurs in late spring, young specimens collected have indicated that spawning probably occurs in April, May, and June in the southern United States. Alligator gars are thought to spawn in the spring by congregating in large numbers with a female and one or more males on either side to fertilize the eggs. Fecundity in females has a positive correlation with total length. Females generally carry an average of 138,000 eggs. The eggs are released and fertilized by the male outside of the body they sink to the bottom after being released and stick to the substrate due to an adhesive outer covering. The eggs are bright red and poisonous if eaten. Alligator gars are thought to spawn in the floodplain of these large rivers, giving their young protection from predators.

Behavior

Alligator gars appear sluggish, however they are voracious predators. Gars are ambush predators, primarily piscivores, they lay still in the water until an unsuspecting fish swims by, and then lunging forward and lashing the head from side to side in order to capture prey. Many times gars will lay still at the top of the water for long periods of time, appearing to be merely a log. The alligator gars' diet consists primarily of fish. However, brackish water populations of alligator gar are known to feed heavily on blue crabs in addition to fish such as the hardhead catfish. This gar is also known to prey on waterfowl and other birds, small mammals, turtles, and carrion. Alligator gars have been reported to attack duck decoys and eat injured waterfowl shot by hunters.

Behavior

All gars have an elongated, torpedo-shaped body. The caudal fin of the alligator gar is abbreviate-heterocerical, meaning the tail is not symmetrical. The dorsal and anal fins are located very far back on the body. Gars bodies are covered by ganoid scales, which are thick overlapping scales that create a protective covering similar to medieval chainmail. Gars have retained the spiral valve intestine a primitive feature of the digestive system commonly associated with sharks. Gars also have a highly vascularized swim bladder connected to the pharynx by a pneumatic duct. This enables them to gulp air, which aids in facultative air breathing. This allows gar to breathe when there are very low oxygen levels in the water. The alligator gar is distinguished from other gars in the United States by its relatively short, broad snout which has two rows of fang-like teeth in the upper jaw. The inner row of teeth in the upper jaw is palatine and larger than the outer row of teeth.