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What do Northern Pike Eat?

Updated on April 22, 2013

Northern Pike

What is a Northern Pike?

Northern pikes have a scientific name of Esox Lucius. They are species of the genus Esox. Northern pikes are fresh water fish that have long and slender bodies. They are easily recognized by their long head and snout which is contains many long and sharp canine teeth. These are elongated fish are viscous and big and can reach to a maximum of 6 feet. Its dorsal region is usually green in color with many lighter spots on the side shading to white or cream on the belly. Its eyes are bright yellow and its cheeks are fully scaled. On each side of the ventral surface of its jaw, it has large sensory pores.

Northern pikes got their name because they are typically found in brakish and fresh waters throughout the northern hemisphere. They can be found in Russia, Europe, North America, Morocco and even the Baltic Sea. In North America, they can be found in more than 35 states in the U.S.A. and most of Canada.

Northern pikes generally spawn in the spring, around late March or early April, when water temperature reaches 5-9 degrees Celsius in shallow waters. Spawning lasts for 5 to 10 days. The number of eggs the females lay depends on the size of the fish. The bigger the fish, the more eggs it produces. They can lay about 250,000 to 500,000 eggs. The females usually leave the eggs after spawning while the males stay in the spawning are for several weeks. The eggs hatch depending on water temperature which can be as early as six days or as long as four weeks. With their voracious appetites, the young pikes grow hastily in weight and length. They can typically reach six inches by fall. Male pikes attain maturity in two to three years while females need three to four years. Northern Pikes typically live for five to fifteen years but can be as old as thirty, depending on circumstances.

Northern Pike's Diet

Northern pikes are carnivores. They are known to hunt in packs like that of wolves that is why they are also known as ‘water wolf’. They are known to eat almost anything that fits in its mouths. Other than the smaller species that are in the lakes they live in, pikes are known to eat their own kind. Reports have shown that some pikes are found dead choking on other pikes of a similar size.

According to a Canadian study it was found out that northern pikes mostly ate Perch, spot tail shiners and white suckers. Their diet are not limited to fish, they will eat small birds, frogs, baby otters, leeches, insects and small mammals that fall in the water.

When northern pikes are still small hatchlings and immature pikes they are at risk of being prey to larger fishes including their own kind. Other animals that prey on young pikes include turtles, ospreys, herons, other fish-eating birds. But when a northern pike reaches its full size they do not have natural enemies but they are actually feared predators in the waters they swim in.

Monster Northern Pike - 90 fish over 20 lbs!


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