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Florida gar

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The Florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) is a species of gar that is found in the USA from the Savannah River and Ochlockonee River watersheds of Georgia and throughout peninsular Florida. Florida gars can reach a length of over 3 feet (132 cm). The young feed on zooplankton and insect larvae, as well as small fish. Adults mainly eat fish, shrimp and crayfish. Although edible, they are not popular as food. The roe is highly toxic to many animals, including humans and birds.

They have irregular round, black spots on the top of their head and over the entire body including the fins. The distance of their eyes is less than two-thirds the length of the snout. Also they have a shorter, broad snout with a single row of irregularly spaced sharp teeth on the upper and lower jaws. No bony scales on the throat. Their color is olive-brown on the back and upper sides, with a white to yellow stomach. The young may have dark stripes on the back and sides.

They can be found in the Ochlockonee River and waters east and in peninsular Florida in medium to large lowland streams, canals and lakes with muddy or sandy bottoms near underwater vegetation. They use an air bladder to breathe air which helps them survive in poorly oxygenated water.

This occurs in late winter and early spring. Groups of both sexes come together in shallow weedy water where the females discharge their adhesive eggs among the aquatic plants. The hatched young possess an adhesive organ on the end of their snout and stay attached to vegetation until about 3/4 inches (2 cm) long.

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