Saturday 12 October 2019

Channa argus: The Northern Snakehead reported in Georgia for the first time.

Authorities in the US state of Georgia have issued a warning after a fisherman reported catching a Northern Snakehead, Channa argus, in a fishing pond in Gwinnett County. The Northern Snakehead is considered to be highly invasive in the United States, due to its ability to disperse overland and broad dietary tastes, which enable it to consume a wide range of prey, including many vulnerable species that have no natural defence against it. The warning issued by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division is both simple and stark; anybody coming across a Northern Snakehead in the state should kill it.

The Northern Snakehead is a large predatory Perciform Fish native to Korea, northeast China, and the Russian Far East. in which areas it is considered an important food Fish. This has led to it being introduced to other areas of the world. notably Europe and North America, where it is considered an invasive species, with authorities in the United States being particularly concerned by it.

Northern Snakeheads can reach 150 cm in length, and are capable of breathing air, which is useful in the stagnant ponds that form much of their native habitat. Young Northern Snakeheads are capable of dispersing overland in search of new homes, remaining out of the water for several days at a time, though reports of them hunting down Mammalian prey out of water, or climbing trees to raid Bird's nests, are probably apocryphal. They are capable of consuming a wide range of prey in the water, including invertebrates, Amphibians, and other Fish, as well as terrestrial prey that comes to close to the water, and can rapidly change the fauna of any new waterway they reach. 

The species was first reported in the wild in North America in 2002, when they were found in a pond in Maryland, since when they have been found in Virginia, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, North Carolina, Arkansas, and British Colombia (Canada), as well as being found in Georgia this month.

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