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Spotted Gar

Lepisosteus oculatus

Did you know?

  • All species of gar have elongated, dart-shaped bodies with needle-like teeth
  • The spotted gar is the smallest of the seven species of gar in North America, growing 2-3 feet, while alligator gar are the largest at 6-7 feet.
  • Male spotted gar have an average lifespan of 8 years while females have an average of 10 years.
  • Some species of gar are able to gulp air and send it to a primitive lung called a gas bladder
  • Being a predator that feeds on other fish and crustaceans, gar are never eaten by humans due to their high levels of mercury and they even pose as a cancer-risk

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild


Spotted gar are widespread and abundant.


Their geographic distribution ranges from the Canadian province of southern Ontario down to south Texas and eastward to the north Gulf Coast.


Clear, slow-moving, shallow creeks, rivers, and lakes

we care about spotted gar

The Saint Louis Zoo takes care of this species in the Missouri River Aquarium at the end of River's Edge at the Zoo. Learn more about how we are helping wildlife around the world.

Dedicated to Conservation

Find this animal in River's Edge


River's Edge

Take a journey along a mythical waterway through four continents to discover how wildlife, plants and people interact. River's Edge is the Saint Louis Zoo's first immersion exhibit—a lushly planted naturalistic environment showcasing multiple species from around the world.

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