A swimming and land-flopping nightmare resides on Michigan's Invasive Species Watchlist: the Northern Snakehead. Originally from Asia, it has slowly slithered its way into neighboring states. Therefore, our state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is highly alert for this potential ecosystem devastater.

Related: This Invasive Creature Will Destroy Michigan! See It, Squish It!

New York State's DNR is now wrestling with an established population of northern snakeheads. This long, thin fish has a single fin along its back, a brown hue, and dark blotches. It also has a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, which these aggressive species use furiously on its prey or innocent humans who wander in its way.

The Northern Snakehead and the Threat it Poses to Michigan's Ecosystem

National Geographic via YouTube / Canva
National Geographic via YouTube / Canva

The northern snakehead is a severe potential threat to Michigan waters. Its appetite or disposition aren't the only factors. What makes this species so harmful is the frequency with which it reproduces. Adult female northern snakeheads can reproduce up to five times a year, laying as many as 1,500 eggs.

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A predator emerging into a delicate ecosystem like Michigan's freshwater lakes and rivers could quickly upend the food chain and reduce the population of some of our state's indigenous species to dangerous levels. The DNR is also monitoring the established or growing populations of northern snakeheads in nearby states.

Northern Snakehead Can Spread in Water and On Land

National Geographic via YouTube / Canva
National Geographic via YouTube / Canva

As if the mouth full of razors wasn't enough to make you uneasy about the northern snakehead, its other specially evolved skill is something made in nightmares. This invasive species can survive on land for up to 4 days.

It accomplishes this by using a chamber within its gills to swallow big gulps of air through its mouth. The Michigan DNR urges you to report any snakehead sightings on land or in the water immediately using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (link here), or you can download the MISIN smartphone app and report it there.

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Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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