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Northern Snakehead

Scientific Name

Channa argus (ITIS)

Common Name

Northern Snakehead

Native To

Eastern Asia (NAS Database)

Date of U.S. Introduction

First established population discovered in Maryland in 2002 (NAS Database)

Means of Introduction

Released from fish markets (NAS Database)

Impact

Preys on and competes with native species (NAS Database)

Northern snakehead

Northern snakehead, open mouth showing sharp teeth, Photo by U.S. Geological Survey

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Spotlights

  • Invasive Snakehead Caught in Canton, Massachusetts

    • Sep 2, 2021
    • Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

    • On August 27, an angler caught a northern snakehead from Reservoir Pond in Canton,┬áMassachusetts. After obtaining and analyzing the specimen, MassWildlife confirmed this fish was a snakehead, an invasive species in Massachusetts. This fish was most likely released by a pet owner when it grew too large for its aquarium. Possession and liberation of snakeheads are both illegal in Massachusetts. Transferring exotic fish into local waterways can cause a host of problems, including competition with native species and spread of disease. This recent catch is the fifth confirmed snakehead documented in Massachusetts since 2002. All snakeheads found in Massachusetts were adults, and MassWildlife has found no evidence of reproduction at any of the locations where the snakeheads were caught.

      Anglers may confuse snakeheads with other native species like bowfin. Anyone who captures a fish that can be confidently identified as a snakehead should keep the fish, kill it, and report it to MassWildlife by emailing mass.wildlife@mass.gov or calling (508) 389-6300. MassWildlife encourages anglers who are less certain about the species of fish they have caught to send photos showing various angles of the fish. Under no circumstance should a suspected snakehead be transported to another location until identification is confirmed.

  • NYS DEC Encourages Delaware River Anglers to Report Invasive Snakehead Sightings

    • Aug 26, 2020
    • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

    • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today encouraged anglers in the Delaware River to be on the lookout for northern snakehead, an invasive fish native to Southeast Asia. A northern snakehead was recently caught in the Callicoon area of the Delaware River. Given the right environmental conditions, this invasive species can prey on and compete with other fish, upsetting the natural balance of local ecosystems. "Northern snakeheads are listed federally as injurious wildlife, and New York State law prohibits their live possession," Commissioner Seggos said. "Any snakehead caught should be killed immediately and not released back into the water." In the event an angler catches a northern snakehead, DEC advises anglers to report the catch to the regional NYS DEC fisheries office, DEC's Invasive Species Bureau at isinfo@dec.ny.gov or (518) 402-9425, or submit a report through iMapinvasives.

  • Anglers Urged To Report, Dispose Of Invasive Northern Snakeheads If Caught In Lower Susquehanna River

    • May 22, 2020
    • Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

    • The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is urging anglers to report and dispose of any invasive Northern Snakehead fish that may be caught in the lower Susquehanna River. This advisory follows the documented movement of 21 Northern Snakeheads past the Conowingo Dam into the Conowingo Pool, a 14-mile-long section of the Susquehanna River located between the Conowingo Dam in Maryland and the Holtwood Dam in Pennsylvania. Anglers are reminded that possession, transport, and importation of a live snakehead is unlawful in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. Any of these invasive fish that are caught should be killed and disposed of properly or consumed. Anglers who suspect they have caught a snakehead are encouraged to NOT release it, and report it to the PFBC at (610) 847-2442 or by sending an email to tgrabowski@pa.gov. For more information on Northern Snakeheads in Pennsylvania, including an identification guide, visit the PFBC snakehead resource page.

  • Invasive Snakehead Fish Caught in Gwinnett County (Georiga)

    • Oct 8, 2019
    • Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Wildlife Resources Division.

    • The Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division confirmed someone found a northern snakehead in early October in a pond on private property in Gwinnett County, marking the first time the invasive fish has been found in the state. Fishermen who find a northern snakehead should take pictures, note where it was caught and then report it.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

Federally Regulated

  • Injurious Wildlife Listings - Keeping Risky Wildlife Species Out of the United States

    • DOI. FWS. Fish and Aquatic Conservation.

    • Includes species listed as injurious wildlife under the Federal Lacey Act (18 USC 42), which makes it illegal to import injurious wildlife into the U.S. or transport between the listed jurisdictions in the shipment clause (the continental U.S., the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any possession of the U.S.) without a permit. An injurious wildlife listing would not prohibit intrastate transport or possession of that species within a State where those activities are not prohibited by the State. Preventing the introduction of new harmful species is the only way to fully avoid impacts of injurious species on local, regional, and national economies and infrastructure, and on the natural resources of the U.S.

      Injurious wildlife are wild mammals, wild birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, crustaceans, mollusks and their offspring or eggs that are injurious to the interests of human beings, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife or wildlife resources of the U.S. Plants and organisms other than those stated above cannot be listed as injurious wildlife. For more information, see What Are Injurious Wildlife: A Summary of the Injurious Provisions of the Lacey Act and Summary of Species Currently Listed as Injurious Wildlife.

Videos

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Partnership
Federal Government
State and Local Government
Academic
Professional
Citations