This species is native in rivers of China and Siberia. It prefers relatively low maximum air temperatures (5-18oC) and can tolerate up to 193 annual frost days. They can withstand freezing temperatures by hibernating or remaining dormant in the mud. Adult fish can grow up to 100 cm (1 meter) in length, can live up to eight years, and has no natural predators. Juvenile snakeheads eat zooplankton, insect larvae, small crustaceans, and the fry of other fish. Adult snakeheads feed mainly on other fish, with the remainder of their diet consisting of crustaceans, frogs, small reptiles, and sometimes small birds and mammals.

Northern snakeheads are capable of overland migration using their pectoral fins, are air-breathers, and can live for days out of water. The northern snakehead poses a high risk of establishment and spread across North America because it is adaptable to a wide range of aquatic environments and has a very broad latitudinal range and temperature tolerance.

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