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Feature Creature - PIKE

Credits: Amy Lewis

It's time for a fish feature creature - the PIKE! This large freshwater fish is one of the UK's top river predators and is infamous for snatching young ducklings from the surface of the water.  

Fantastic facts:

 

*Favourite foods: fish, frogs, insects and sometimes small ducklings or water voles

 

*Enemies: bigger pike, otters, fishermen     *Size: up to 150cm long and 25kg (females)

 

*Super power: backward-pointing teeth. Once ensnared in the mouth, prey is unable to escape

 

*Latin name: Esox lucius (Esox = big fish)     *Life span: around 15 years in the wild

 

But what are these fearsome fish and what can they do? Pike are:

 

Ambush hunters

 

Hunting can be a tiring business. When your main prey is small, fast-moving fish, you want to use as little energy as possible and avoid long, exhausting chases. The pike lies in wait for the perfect meal to pass within attack distance.

 

Despite their often large size, pike are well camouflaged with browns and greens. Their striped pattern also helps them blend in, and their elongated body mimics the clumped weed they prefer to hide beneath. Moving only their fins to keep them in place they can remain motionless for hours until the right opportunity comes along.

 

Big 

 

Pike are one of the largest freshwater fish in the UK and at the top of the food chain. Once at full size, they have few natural predators, and one of the  animals a growing pike fears most is another, larger pike! Females generally grow to a larger size than males and can be ready to breed at one year old.

 

Spawning takes place between March and May. A female can produce up to 500,000 eggs! Young pike, known as 'jacks', feed on tiny minibeasts until they're large enough to tackle small fish, but only a small number of them survive to adulthood.