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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Yellow Bullhead - Ameiurus natalis

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Exotic Species (not native to Montana)

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status


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General Description
The Yellow bullhead is similar to the black bullhead in nearly all respects, except it has white or creamy chin barbels. It has been introduced from the Midwest into a few scattered locales, mostly in southeast Montana, but is of little consequence to the fishery fauna of this state.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Overall yellowish brown to yellow, back darker,underside yellow or white. Young usually dark brown or black, with light-colored underside. Rear edge of spine in pectoral fins has sawlike teeth.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Western Hemisphere Range


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 394

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Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Weedy, shallow, clear-water areas of lakes and slow-moving streams.

Food Habits
Food mostly aquatic insects, mollusks, crayfish, and small fish. May also eat remains of dead organisms.

Usually associated with black bullhead where found in southeast Montana. Rarely lives past 4 years.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually mature in 2-3 years. Spawns May-early July in 1-4 ft. of water.

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Citation for data on this website:
Yellow Bullhead — Ameiurus natalis.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on October 4, 2015, from
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