Facts about Northern pike
It is one of the best-known freshwater fishes. The predatory northern pike is equipped with sharp and long teeth, perfect for holding prey. Inattentive anglers often learned of its effectiveness when bitten by a fish caught and lying on the bank. This aggressive predator is known for its intense hunting activity. Few people know that there are cases of pike attacking birds. A few years ago, a case was reported of a mute swan that died from injuries sustained after being attacked by the fish.
1They live in the northern hemisphere.
Their range extends from Alaska through Canadian territory, Europe, Middle East and Central Asia to the Sea of Okhotsk.
2Pike can be found in still and flowing waters, both fresh and saline.
The only saltwater habitat northern pike can be found is the Baltic Sea and the mouths of rivers flowing into it. After spending some time in saline water, pike usually returns to freshwater. They prefer clearer waters with the presence of aquatic plants.
3The typical body length of these fish ranges from 40 to 55 cm (15.7 to 21.6 in).
Record-breaking specimens can reach up to 140 cm (55.1 in). The weight of adult individuals averages about 10 kg (22 lb), although sometimes pikes twice as massive can be found.
4The northern pike is olive-green in color, with a yellow or white tint running along the belly.
Light spots run along the sides of the body forming a blotchy pattern. Dark spots are found on the fins, which are usually body-colored but may be reddish.
5Juvenile fish have green skin and yellow stripes run along the body.
As the fish grows, the color changes to olive green and the stripes divide into smaller pieces that form a speckled pattern.
6Teeth are only found on the mandible.
They are sharp and point backward, allowing the fish to hold captured prey easily. The snout is flat and long, tapering towards the end.
7They are predatory and often hunt from concealment.
Pike (especially the smaller ones) hide in the lush thickets of water bodies and wait for incoming prey while remaining motionless. At the right moment, they make a sudden movement, pouncing on the unsuspecting animal, sinking their sharp teeth into it.
8Larger animals tend to follow their prey, while juveniles prefer to attack from hiding.
Adults are found at depths of several meters, following schools of other fish. In the Baltic Sea, the pike has been reported to follow herring schools.
9Most individuals lead a solitary life.
Under certain conditions, however, it is better to cooperate. Divers reported that smaller pikes sometimes form little groups called "wolf packs." This can help younger fish catch larger prey and fend off a more massive predator that wants to steal the others' prey.
10They exhibit cannibalistic behavior.
At about five weeks of age, the first signs of cannibalism may appear if there is not enough food available. According to research, it takes twice as many of these fish as potential prey for widespread cannibalism to develop in a pike population.