Behavior

Highly territorial, snakeheads usually stay hidden, and migrate only short distances. Fry of some species have been reported to be cannibalistic, opportunistically eating eggs from a later spawn. Generally, the young tend to school. Snakeheads appear to need to breach the water surface periodically to exchange the air in their suprabranchial chamber. Experiments have shown that breathing surface air is far more important to them than using their gills. This is supported by evidence from the drowning deaths of fishes that have been caught in nets under water, and could not surface to breathe. Some species of snakeheads can live out of water for several days if their bodies are wet, amazingly migrating on land during the raining season by using their bodies, pectoral fins, and caudal fins. However, no one has reported them feeding while moving on land. The striped snakehead (Channa striata) has been reported to survive in the bottom mud of lakes, swamps, and canals that have dried up; fishermen using long knives to cut away the mud in layers have found these fishes singly or in clusters within cavities of the mud.

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