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What is a Pike Eel?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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Known scientifically as Muraenesox bagio, the pike eel is a type of eel that looks quite similar to other eels. It is native to the Indo-Pacific area and can often be found dwelling at the bottoms of these bodies of water. Pike eels, in addition to being a predator themselves, are a common food item in the region that they inhabit.

Like most other eels, pike eels also have a long thin, snake-like body. Their bodies are usually smooth, lacking scales. A pike eel also has longer jaws than some other types of eels. There are also several sharp teeth, just below its nostrils and at the front part of the bottom jaw.

A mature common pike eel can reach a length of roughly 6.5 feet (2 meters). This is smaller than the Indian pike conger, which can grow to be more than 8 feet (2.5 meters) long and is also native to the area. Although a pike eel is sometimes also confused with a darkfin conger eel, a pike eel typically has a much narrower head.

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Pike eels are usually found inhabiting the warmer tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They can be found along the coasts of Southeast Asia and Australia, as well as off the coast of the southern parts of Africa. Most of these eels seem to prefer soft-bottomed, silty areas, and they can often be found in estuaries. They also tend to go no deeper than about 300 feet (91.4 meters).

Like many other eels, a pike eel is a predator. These eels are also thought to be nocturnal, typically hunting at night. It will often eat other bottom-dwelling fish along with crustaceans, and its long, sharp teeth help it catch and hang on to the struggling prey.

Pike eels can often be found trapped in fishermen's nets, and they are also sometimes caught accidentally by anglers. When caught, these animals can get very aggressive, thrashing around and possibly biting humans. If a pike eel is caught, many times it is sold or used for food.

In Japan especially, pike eel is a popular food item, and they can often be found either live or freshly killed in the local fish markets. There are several different ways of preparing pike eel. Some chefs add it to soup, while others may grill it with mushrooms, eggplant, or seaweed.

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