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What are snakeheads and what do they look like?

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Hello and welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Dane Klima.

You, faithful listener, have a chance to host your very own episode of CoreCast. The randomly chosen and lucky winner will get a chance to interview a scientist or talk about cool science topics. If you think you've got what it takes, just send your name and e-mail address to The contest ends Friday, September 26, 2008.

Now to today's CoreFact.

What are snakeheads and what do they look like?

Snakeheads are air breathing freshwater fish native to parts of Asia and Africa. While they are not native to North America, some species have been found in U.S. waters. Snakeheads have predatory behavior and compete with native species for food and habitat. They feed on other fish, frogs, small reptiles, and sometimes birds and small mammals. Therefore, snakeheads could drastically disrupt food webs and ecological conditions.

So, what do they look like? Snakeheads have a long, cylindrical body with a large mouth and sharp teeth. They have enlarged scales on top of their heads and their eyes are located far forward on their head, similar to the scale patterns and eye positions of snakes. Because their heads are similar to the heads of snakes, they have long been known by the common name "snakeheads." Size and color patterns vary among 29 recognized species. The largest recorded snakehead was almost 6 feet in length.

And now you know. Join us every week for a new CoreFact. If you're looking for more in-depth science coverage, please check out the USGS CoreCast at To have your own question potentially featured on the air, send it to or leave a voicemail with us at 703-648-5600; however do remember that this may be a long distance charge, so long distance fees may apply.

CoreFacts is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

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Title: What are snakeheads and what do they look like?

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Date Recorded: 9/24/2008

Usage: This audio file is public domain/of free use unless otherwise stated. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this audio.

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