Species of Invasive Fish Walk on Land, Climb Trees

A Snakehead in a net that can breathe air and travel short distances on land.

Chesapeake Bay Program / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

This is a Snakehead fish, but you can just call him "Fishzilla."

Australia has long battled with all sorts of harmful, invasive species--and wildlife authorities are concerned that they may soon be facing a new threat from what may be one of meanest-looking of unwelcome guests.

Snakehead Fish

A snakehead fish crawling on land.

Biswa1992 / Getty Images

The culprit is a particularly troublesome creature called the Snakehead fish, which is able to breath air, allowing it to travel on land to find prey or migrate. Also known by the perhaps more fitting moniker "Fishzilla," the invasive fish has been discovered in parts of Oceania, and it may be only a matter of time until it makes its way to the Australian mainland.According to a report in The Cairns Post, Snakehead fish have already been discovered on the southern coast of the neighboring island to the north, Papua New Guinea. The fish can grow up to three feet in length and are known to eat water birds, snakes and rodents. Snakehead fish are able to venture out of the water in search of prey which it devours whole.

Climbing Perch

Farmer holding Climbing fish from his pond.

WorldFish / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As if the Snakehead fish weren't enough of a problem, another invasive species is inspiring nightmares for Australian wildlife authorities--the climbing perch. Much like the Snakehead, climbing perch are capable of 'walking' on land, and according to the Post, "may even climb trees." Still, there's no shortage of freaky fish to worry about.

"There are a whole bunch of fish that are now on the southern coast of New Guinea...which are even worse than climbing perch," says Damien Burrows, director of the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research.

New Guinea is separated from the Australian mainland by the narrow Torres Strait, although Burrows doesn't think that the pests would be able to enter his territory unassisted, but he's still concerned.

They're only going to get there if people move them, and that makes it an unpredictable quantity. If we had a good enough education campaign in the Torres Strait, there's no reason why they'd come through. They are certainly capable of surviving a journey in a bottom of a boat across Torres Strait.

Snakehead fish, in particular, are considered a source of food in parts of Africa and Asia--and it is thought that humans have intentionally introduced the fish to various ecosystems throughout the world. The invasive fish has been discovered in many places across the US, in some cases driving away native species.

And who could blame them, after seeing a mug like that?

Photo via The Cairns Post