A woman who dipped her hand in an ornamental fish pond at a shopping mall in central Israel had it bitten by an alligator fish, The Times of Israel said on Sunday.
It was not immediately known how the three-foot long creature found its way into the pond. While the Agriculture Ministry began investigating, the fish was removed from the site.
Apparently, the woman was not seriously hurt.
The alligator gar, so called because of the resemblance of its snout and long, sharp teeth to an alligator’s, is one of the biggest freshwater fish in North America, growing up to nine feet long. Its natural prey is waterfowl, turtles and small mammals.
It is illegal to own the fish in Israel.
A ministry spokeswoman said she could not divulge the exact location of the shopping mall while the investigation was ongoing.
Haggai Neuberger of the ministry’s Fisheries Division said that besides being potentially dangerous to humans, the alligator gar could harm Israel’s biodiversity if it reached natural bodies of water, where it would prey on other marine life.