Curtin, Charles B. Department of Biology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska.
Last reviewed:September 2015
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Any of the species of freshwater fishes that compose the family Esocidae in the order Esociformes. Members of the family Esocidae (order Esociformes) belong to one extant genus, Esox, and are commonly termed pike. They also are known by other names, including pickerel and muskellunge. These fishes are voracious predators with an elongated beaklike snout and sharp teeth. The head is partly scaled, and the body is covered with cycloid scales that have deeply scalloped edges. The body is cylindrical and compressed; thus, these fishes are well adapted for rapid movements as they dart after prey. They prey upon each other, as well as other fishes, amphibians, small aquatic birds and mammals, and rats. All species of pike are edible, but they are considered second-rate game fishes. See also: Esociformes; Osteichthyes; Predator-prey interactions; Scale (zoology)
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