The snakefish: A concerning ecological threat (Updated with picture; Updated again: the snakefish may have been over-sensationalized)
In 2002, the snakefish (or Channidae) was described as “something from a bad horror movie” by US Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Planet Ark describes snakefish as having “a voracious appetite, often consuming all other fish in a lake or pond and even eating its young. It can slither across land, staying out of water for up to three days, to find new sources of food.” Norton also warns that once on land “snakeheads can eat almost any small animal in its path…. They have even attacked people in China who got too close to snakeheads’ egg nesting areas.” According to Wikipedia, snakefish can be up to over a metre in length and over 6 kilograms in weight. Most snakefish are 2-3 feet long. They’re also fast reproducers with no natural enemies outside of their native environments. Within their native environments, small snakefish are preyed upon by bigger fish, while full-grown snakefish are consumed by crocodiles and alligators. Because of their ability to move into new habitats and wipe out local ecosystems (and to then hop out of the water and mosey on over to another body of water and repeat the process) snakefish have been prohibited in 13 American states and other countries (e.g., Australia).
Hat Tip: Xander Legere
This snakefish was caught in England. In an article entitled Killer fish terrifies Britain, News.Com (as in Rupert Murdoch) describes that snakefish as “A savage fish that eats everything it comes across, including people. The discovery of the fish is reported to have caused widespread panic among conservationists and anglers. An Environmental Agency source described the snakefish as “the ultimate invasive species”. The source said that if snakefish begin breeding in the area it will be a disaster.
Hat Tip: Xander Legere
Update #2: According to New Scientist the snakefish has been over-sensationalized:
Michael LePage writes that we have far less to be afraid of than a number of articles have been suggesting. Firstly, the giant snakehead is a tropical species that could not survive winters of climates like that of England. Secondly, he says that while “the northern snakefish is a problematic invasive species than can alter ecosystems”, they do not wipe out all other fish species. LePage is also skeptical of stories of attacks on people, saying that “Fisherman are notorious for their tall tales”.
Hat Tip: Stoobs