Northern pikes are natural predators whose teeth are razor-sharp, designed to slice and dice their prey. The teeth multiply as the pike grows. How many teeth a pike has depends on the age and size, but generally, a fully grown pike can have up to 700 teeth. Additionally, the length of their teeth depends on their age and size. A big pike has large fang-like teeth that can grow up to one inch, while the size of smaller teeth varies from 0.2 to 0.4 inches. Moreover, a mature pike can have up to 17 rows of teeth, but the numbers depend on how you count them. The teeth of a northern pike are arranged in rows, and the needle-like teeth point inward to prevent the prey from escaping.
Northern pikes are called sea wolves because they possess hundreds of teeth. If you’re fond of fishing and want to understand the teeth in a pike’s mouth, this guide will help you understand the anatomy of pike’s teeth, their functions, and how you can handle them when pike fishing.
Anatomy and Function of Northern Pike Teeth
Northern pikes are carnivorous hunters with a collection of sharp teeth that allow them to pierce through the prey’s flesh easily. Pikes have small razor-sharp teeth, while the bigger ones resemble fangs. Pike’s mouth is lined with teeth in the lower and upper jawline, but most of their teeth are found on the upper side of their mouth.
The teeth of a northern pike are arranged in rows, and the needle-like teeth point inward to prevent the prey from escaping. Remember, the teeth are designed to attack the prey, but pike bite humans when they mistake their body parts for an injured fish.
How many teeth a pike has depends on its size and age. For example, a pike’s carcass was discovered in the United Kingdom with around 700 teeth. However, most pikes have between 300-500 teeth, including large fangs and needle-like teeth.
Most northern pike weighs an average of 3-7 pounds and can grow up to 30 inches long. Their size determines the size and number of their teeth. For example, the fangs of a mature northern pike can grow up to one inch, while the length of smaller teeth varies from 0.2 to 0.4 inches.
Do Northern Pikes Shed Their Teeth?
Before knowing whether pikes shed their teeth, it’s good to understand their diet.
Northern Pike Diet
The northern pike is a predatory fish and feeds on prey fish. Pikes feed regularly and can eat most fish species they come across.
Some of the fish species northern pikes like feeding on include white suckers, shad, yellow perch, ciscoes, shiners, bluegill, lake herring, burbot, crappie, and rainbow trout.
However, pike’s diet varies from continent to continent and depends on the type of prey available in each habitat. But mostly, they like feeding on small fish and other smaller water mammals. Juvenile pikes have small teeth and mainly feed on aquatic crustaceans and insects.
Northern Pike Teeth Facts
Northern pikes have plenty of teeth in their upper and lower jawline. They also have large fang-like teeth that cover the lower side of their jaws and short brush-like teeth on the upper side of the jaw. Pikes’ razor-sharp teeth are designed to prevent the prey from escaping when they bite their prey.
It’s worth noting that cannibalism is quite common among northern pikes. In some cases, adult pikes feed on their younger ones, thus increasing their mortality rate.
Northern pike has large heads, and their teeth can attack prey that’s about 1/3 or 1/2 size of their body size. However, there are times when big prey attack and overpower the pikes, and that is why they like sticking to smaller fish species.
Northern Pike and Shedding of Teeth
Many anglers claim that northern pike shed their teeth, especially during winter. These assumptions are made especially because they are not aggressive during this season. However, there’s no conclusive research confirming the claims.
Like other animals, they may lose teeth naturally or when a pike bites tough prey animals.
Do Northern Pikes Lose Their Teeth During Winter?
Numerous reasons make northern pike less aggressive during winter. One factor that could make them less active is dying of shallow weed, thus forcing them to move to deep water structures.
Another factor is the lack of metabolism because the water gets icy during winter. In cases where pike loses their teeth due to natural causes, the teeth grow back, but this doesn’t mean they shed the teeth naturally.
Does Northern Pike Lose Teeth During Summer?
Some anglers catch northern pike during summer with several missing teeth. This makes them conclude that pike loses teeth during summer. You can find pikes with missing teeth, but this only happens when the water in that lake or ocean is unhealthy.
Some water bodies are infested with water bacteria that become active when the temperatures are hot. These bacteria cause infection, making pikes sick and losing their teeth.
Pollution also causes fish species like the northern pike to lose their teeth. Other things that can trigger tooth loss include extreme aging and when a pike attacks and hits a tough northern pike lure.
Is the Specific Time of Year that Pikes Lose Their Teeth?
There is no specific season that can make a pike lose its teeth. Pike only lose teeth because of the following reasons.
- Infection from an injury
- Infection from pollution
- External damage
Handling Northern Pike safely
Many claims that pike bite humans when swimming or diving. Although these claims are valid, it’s rare to see a northern pike biting humans, especially when handled safely.
However, there are rare cases of pike attacking bite your toes or fingers when they mistake you for injured prey.
There are reported cases of pike attacking swimmers or people riding on a boat. This usually happens when the pike hears the movements, thus mistaking their body parts for prey.
Remember, northern pike have small brain sizes and only rely on the instinctual drive to attack their prey. Avoid dangling your feet and hands in water when northern pike fishing to avoid inducing a northern pike bite.
Can Pike Injure Humans?
There are instances where anglers get bitten by northern pike while fishing. If your hand or fingers get into the mouth, remain calm because removing it hastily can make pike’s razor sharp teeth cause significant damage.
Remember, pike’s teeth are numerous, and moving your hand along them will tear your skin. Northern pike teeth are dangerous and can cause damage if not handled properly. It can cause a deep surgical cut, and you might need to visit a hospital for proper medical care.
When a pike bites you, it’s advisable to remain calm and use long nose pliers, a jaw spreader, and an unhooking mat to loosen the fish teeth grip.
Always bring a first aid kit to clean and dress the wound to prevent infections. To avoid such bites in the future, it’s advisable to use tooth-proof gloves when removing your lure.
How to Handle Northern Pike Safely
When pike fishing, you can use different methods to prevent them from injuring you. Some of the safety equipment you should carry include:
- Fish-friendly jaw spreader
- Long needle-nose pliers
- A hook out
- A hook cutter
- A landing net
Follow the steps below to unhook a northern pike safely.
Step 1: Use a Landing Net to Scoop the Fish
A landing net is a good option, especially if you’re doing catch-and-release fishing. Moreover, this net is ideal for beginners who have never handled a pike before.
Step 2: Unhook the Fish
After using your net to remove the pike from the water, the next thing is to unhook it. Big pike usually has long fangs, and they can easily pin you when trying to remove the hook, so it’s advisable to use teeth-proof gloves.
Step 3: Safely Grip the Fish
If you practice catch-and-release fishing, support the fish with both hands and ensure some of their parts are slightly in the water. Never handle them vertically or by their gills, as this can damage their spine or cause severe organ damage.
Northern Pike Teeth vs. Fishing Lines
A single northern pike bite can tear your fishing line. Their sharp, large teeth and immersing strength can damage most fishing lines, and the only way to prevent such instances is by using a leader.
You can reel in a braided line since it’s strong enough to handle most fish bites. Although northern pike teeth won’t tear the braided line, it’s possible to fray and weaken the line, so you must keep changing it after a few uses.
When using braided lines, it’s advisable to use it alongside a monofilament leader to absorb the impacts caused when the fish strikes.
You can use a fluorocarbon line if you don’t have a braided line. Fluorocarbon lines are made of strong materials that don’t refract light and are nearly invisible. Remember, northern pike teeth are strong enough to tear any line, so you should use it alongside a wire leader.
Ideally, choose a one and half foot leader made with fluorocarbon material that rates between 50-80 pounds. Use a titanium wire leader for larger pikes because it’s designed for mightier, toothy fish. This wire leader is a bit costlier than other options, but it’s durable and will serve you more.
The northern pike is a natural predator with razor-sharp teeth designed to slice and dice their prey. Remember, the size of their teeth depends on their age and size.
A northern pike can have up to 700 teeth, but most have between 300-500 teeth, including large fangs and needle-like teeth. They feed on small fish species such as white suckers, shad, yellow perch, ciscoes, shiners, bluegill, lake herring, burbot, crappie, and rainbow trout.
Like other animals, northern pike may lose their teeth naturally due to an infection or when they bite tough prey animals.
There are reported cases of pike attacking swimmers or people riding a boat. You can avoid such accidents by avoiding dangling your feet and hands in water.
To safely handle pike, use a landing net, long nose pliers, a jaw spreader, and an unhooking mat to prevent accidents.