Pike found choked on zander in Netherlands

The pike with the zander in its mouth in Almere (photo: Rene Spaargaren) Mr Spaargaren found the fish near his home

Anglers are scratching their heads after a pike was found dead with a zander - a fish of similar size - jammed in its mouth in the Netherlands.

Rene Spaargaren, from Almere near Amsterdam, noticed the dead fish locked together in water near his home and dragged them out with a boat hook.

"It was clear that the pike had bitten off more than it could chew - or swallow, rather," he told BBC News.

British angling expert Charles Jardine said the event was "really unusual".

"What on Earth possessed the pike to take on prey that size?" he asked. "Gluttony just killed that fish."

Mr Spaargaren reported his find to the Dutch nature conservation news website Natuurbericht, which published the story and one of his incredible photographs.

'Not a python'

He came across the fish while doing some work by his jetty this week.

The pike with the zander in its mouth in Almere (photo: Rene Spaargaren) The pike was unable to release its catch once it had bitten

Having calculated roughly that the pike measured about 1m (3.2ft) long and the zander about 75cm (2ft 5in), with a combined weight of about 15 kilos (33lb), he threw them back in the water.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Jardine explained that the zander, sometimes known as the "pike-perch" because of its similarities to the two other species of fish, was an unusual choice of target for a pike.

"A pike is not an alligator or a python - it will not accommodate similar-sized food," he told the BBC.

"Because the teeth on a pike go backward, it would have been unable to release its grip on the zander. It was a death grip for the fish."

Mr Jardine, who champions angling among schoolchildren for the Countryside Alliance Foundation, added: "I have seen Victorian pictures of such things, done with artistic licence, but nobody gave them much credence."

A similar phenomenon was reported in Suffolk, England, in October 2011, when a pike was found dead with a carp in its mouth.

However, that pike was more than four times the size of its prey, according to an article in the UK's Daily Mail newspaper.

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