An invasive northern snakehead, also known as “Frankenfish” that can survive out of the water for days, was recently caught in southeastern Missouri, causing concern that the hard-to-contain species will spread and become a problem.
Northern snakeheads are aggressive predators and have even been known to bite humans who approach a guarded nest.
The last time one showed up in Missouri was four years ago and with the recent catch, wildlife officials sounded the alarm as many anglers are unaware of the fish, its potential impact and what to do if they catch one.
According to Texas Invasive Species Institute, the Northern Snakehead looks very similar to native bowfin but no snakeheads have been found in Texas waters to-date. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be illegally released in the state.
Because of the damage that can occur when they are inadvertently released into lakes and streams, all species of snakeheads are prohibited in Texas.
U.S. officials say that anyone who catches a northern snakehead should photograph it and “kill the fish by freezing it or putting it on ice for an extended time.
If you capture a snakehead fish:
- Do not release the fish or throw it up on the bank (it could wriggle back into the water). Remember, this fish is an air breather and can live a long time out of water.
- Kill the fish by freezing it or putting it on ice for an extended length of time.
- Photograph the fish if you have access to a camera so the species of snakehead fish can be positively identified.
- Contact your nearest fish and game agency or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (703-358-2148) as soon as possible. Keeping data on the size, number, and location of where snakeheads are caught or seen is vital to controlling this invasive fish.