- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2008

The northern snakehead attains sexual maturity by age 2 and 3 when it is no more than 14 inches long. A female snakehead can deposit up to 15,000 eggs during a spawn, which can occur several times during the year.

The snakehead’s roe floats in the water and - if the water is suitably warm - can hatch within 30 hours. Once hatched, a 3/4-inch long fry is capable of feeding on tiny crustaceans and fish larvae. The snakehead also is an obligate air breather. It can survive in oxygen-depleted water by rising to the surface and inhaling air and can survive several days without water as long as it remains moist.

Most of the scientists who have worked with the snakehead species agree it is too early to make a judgment regarding the snakehead’s impact on the waters it has been introduced in, but these fish are predators and will compete with native predatory species for food.

While juvenile snakeheads eat insect larvae, small crustaceans, zooplankton, even the fry of other fish species, the adult snakehead feeds mostly on other fish, as long as they’re smaller and the prey fits into its mouth, but frogs, crayfish, water snakes, even young muskrats and birds can become part of their diet.

Typical snakehead habitat includes ponds, swamps, slow-moving muddy streams and tidal feeder creek shallows. In the case of the Hyattsville.

- Gene Mueller

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