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Pristis perotteti

(Large-Tooth Sawfish)


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Family : Sawfishes ; Inhabits shallow water in the vicinity of the shore and estuarine , particularly lagoons . Tends to run farther upstream in large rivers . Found in temperatures higher than 20-30¦C [1]. Ovoviviparous[2]. Minor commercial , for the curio trade[3].

Critically Endangered

Threat status

Interesting Facts

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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Breton:

Pesk heskenn dent ledan

Common Names in Danish:

Stortandet Savrokke

Common Names in Dutch:

Groot tandzaagvis, Groottandzaagrog, Zaagvis

Common Names in English:

Large-Tooth Sawfish, Largetooth Sawfish, Common Sawfish, Freshwater Sawfish, Large tooth sawfish, Saw Fish, Sawfish, Southern Sawfish

Common Names in Hebrew (modern):

מסורן ארוך שן

Common Names in Kannada:

Billi Sovulu, Chakku Thatte, Naithatte, ಚಕ್ಕು ಥಟ್ಟ  , ನೇತಟ್ಟ , ಬಿಲ್ಲಿ ಸೊವುಲು  

Common Names in Malayalam:

Makara Sravu, Vala Sravu, Velli Sravi, മകര സ്റാവ്, മകരസ്രാവ് , വാള സ്റാവ്, വാള സ്രാവ് , വെളളി സ്റാവ്, വെള്ളി സ്രാവി 

Common Names in Mandarin Chinese:

大齒鋸鰩, 大齿锯鳐

Common Names in Portuguese:

Araguagu, Araguaguá, Araguaguá, Espadarte, Peixe serra, Peixe-Serra, Serra

Common Names in Russian:

Атлантический пилорыл, скат пило, скат-пилонос

Common Names in S. American Indian:

Krarien, Sartji

Common Names in Spanish:

Catanuda, Pez Espada, Pez Peine, Pez Rastrillo, Pez Sierra, Sierra

Common Names in Spanish, Castilian:

Catanuda, Pez espada, Pez peine, Pez rastrillo, Pez sierra, Sierra

Common Names in Sranan:

Krarien, Sartji

Common Names in Tamil:

Iluppa, Vela, இலுப்பா , இழுப்ப, வெலா  , வேலா

Common Names in Telugu:

Hachutti Meenu, Shinesi


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Physical Description

Species Pristis perotteti

Distinctive Features: While they swim much like sharks , sawfish are actually a species of ray. Included in the group of fishes known as elasmobranchs , sawfish have cartilaginous skeletons. The head is ventrally flattened with the mouth located underneath and the eyes positioned dorsally . Sawfish are able to breath while lying on the ocean floor by drawing water into their gills through large holes behind each eye, called spiracles. Their most distinctive feature is their long flat rostrum - "saw" - that is lined with rostral teeth along the margins . These "teeth" are set deeply in hard cartilage and do not grow back if the root becomes damaged.

The largetooth sawfish and the smalltooth sawfish (P. pectinata) are similar in appearance with overlapping ranges in the western Atlantic Ocean and parts of the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The two species can usually be differentiated by noting the number of teeth on one side of the rostrum. P. perotteti can have between 14-21 rostral teeth on one edge of the saw whereas P. pectinata usually has 23-34.

These two species can also be distinguished by observing that in P. perotteti the first dorsal fin originates anterior to the pelvic fins while in P. pectinata the first dorsal fin originates along the same axis as the pelvic fins . The pectoral fins of P. perotteti are proportionally larger than those of P. pectinata. Furthermore, only P. perotteti has a distinct lower lobe on its caudal fin.

Dentition: The teeth of the largetooth sawfish are dome-shaped anteriorly with an obtuse cutting edge . These teeth are a bit larger than in the smalltooth sawfish, with about 12 functional rows in each jaw. The number of teeth increases as the sawfish matures . Newborn largetooth sawfish have 70 teeth and larger individuals have approximately 80-90.

Denticles : Dermal denticles of P. perotteti are more widely spaced over the upper surface than in P. pectinata. The blades are ovoid in shape and rather strongly oblique . The bases are roughly four-cornered and are evident through the skin in very young specimens but more concealed in larger specimens. The denticles on the saw of P. perotteti are rounded to oval and are so closely crowded, they conceal the skin entirely. The denticles along the margins of this fish are the largest; those on lower surface are similar to those on the upper surface but are more closely crowded.


P. perotteti caught in saltwater are dark gray to golden brown in color. Freshwater specimens are mouse gray with red coloration around the back, lower sides, second dorsal, pelvic fins, and caudal sides. The first dorsal may have pale yellow coloration with a reddish rear tip . The reddish tint may be normal or a result of suffusion with blood below the skin .


Maximum size of P. perotteti has been reported between 20.0-21.2 feet(6.1-6.5 m ) total length and between 1,102-1,323 pounds (500-600 kg ) in weight .

P. perotteti are believed to mature around 10 feet (3 m). Largetooth sawfish grow slowly, reaching maturity late at 10 years of age and producing few young. As a result, their population growth is extremely low. Although lifespan in the wild is unknown, research suggests this species lives roughly 30 years.


Sawfish in general inhabit the shallow coastal waters in tropical , subtropical and warm-temperate waters. They are typically found very close to shore lying on muddy and sandy bottoms , in bays , estuaries, and lagoons . Generally thought to rarely descend to depths greater than 33 feet (10 meters ), sawfish have been found in water to 400 feet (122 meters) deep in Lake Nicaragua.

Typically found in a lake at a mean distance from sea level of -1,597.97 meters (-5,242.68 feet).[4]

Ecology: A large-bodied euryhaline sawfish of warm-temperate and tropical waters (>18°C to at least 30°C). Mostly nearshore marine , brackish and freshwater (river and lake ) environments (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953b), but adults may occur across the continental shelf. Though not precisely known, it probably spends most of its time on or near the bottom . However, it is also commonly observed in the wild and in public aquaria swimming quite near the surface for extended periods of time.

The largetooth sawfish is an adept predator , feeding on a variety of small bony fishes, which it stuns with its saw before consuming, and invertebrates , which it stirs with its saw from the substrate (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953b, McCormack et al. 1963, T.B. Thorson pers. comm). It is ovoviviparous and gives birth to 1 to 13 fully developed young per litter with 7 to 9 young being the most common litter sizes (Thorson 1976). Size at birth is about 76 cm TL (Nicaraguan specimens) or slightly less (around 60 cm TL) for northern Brazil (P. Charvet-Almeida pers. obs). In Lake Nicaragua the breeding season has been reported to be in early June and sometimes July. After a five-month gestation , young are born from early October to perhaps early December (Oetinger 1978). Size and age at sexual maturity for both males and females is 240 to 300 cm at about 10 years old (Thorson 1982b). Mean generation time for this species is thought to be about 16 years (Simpfendorfer 2000). Mean maximum adult size is at least 570 cm TL and as much as 700 cm TL (Almeida 1999), though specimens residing in Lake Nicaragua reach only about 430 cm TL maximum. It attains a maximum weight of at least 608 kg (Bigelow and Schroeder 1953b, Oetinger 1978). Its lifespan in the wild is unknown, although its maximum age is thought to be around 30 years (Cook et al. 2005).

Demographic analysis for P. perotteti, based on life history parameters from the Lake Nicaragua stock, produces estimates of intrinsic rates of increase of 0.05 to 0.07 year-1, and population doubling times of 10.3 to 13.6 years (Simpfendorfer 2000). There is no information regarding its life history characteristics from elsewhere within its range .[5].

List of Habitats :


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Largetooth sawfish feed on benthic crustaceans and other invertebrates it stirs up from the substrate with its saw. The saw may also be used to disable prey by stunning small schooling fish such as mullet and smaller herrings before consuming them.


P. perotteti is ovoviviparous. It's eggs are retained in the uterus and the embryos develop while being nourished by a yolk sac . The young are fully developed at birth and litters consist of 1-13 young with 7-9 being the most frequent litter size . Nicaraguan specimens have been recorded as 2.5 feet (76 cm) TL at birth. Litters may be produced every other year. The mating season for the Lake Nicaragua population of largetooth sawfish is early June to July, gestation lasts approximately five months, with young born from October to December. The sawteeth of young sawfish do not fully erupt, and are covered by a sheath of tissue until after birth to protect the mother during the birthing process .



It has been reported that predators of the largetooth sawfish include the American crocodile (Crocodilus acutus). Sawfishes (Pristis spp. ) have been preyed upon by copper sharks (Carcharhinus brachyurus), bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas), and tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier). Sawfishes may also fall victim to red tides . Red tide (Karenia brevis) is a local phenomenon in the Gulf of Mexico, along the Florida coast, and impacts many species of fish and wildlife.


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Pristis microdon Latham • Pristis peroteti Müller & Henle • Pristis perrotteti Müller & Henle • Pristis perrotteti Müller & Henle


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Comment: ex Valenciennes[6].

Last scrutiny: Data last modified by FishBase 18-Oct-2000

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Pristis

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 12 species and subspecies in this genus:

P. cirratus (Longnose Saw Shark) · P. clavata (Dwarf Sawfish) · P. cuspidatus (Knifetooth Sawfish) · P. microdon (Largetooth Sawfish) · P. pectinata (Atlantic Prickly Skate) · P. pectinatus (Small-Tooth Common Sawfish) · P. peroteti (Large-Tooth Sawfish) · P. perotteti (Large-Tooth Sawfish) · P. perrotteti (Large-Tooth Sawfish) · P. pristis (Small-Toothed Sawfish) · P. pristis perotteti (Large-Tooth Sawfish) · P. zijsron (Narrowsnout Sawfish)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 02, 2008:



  1. Bigelow, H.B. and W.C. Schroeder (1953). Sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and rays. p. 1-514. In J. Tee-Van et al. (eds.) Fishes of the western North Atlantic. Part two. New Haven, Sears Found. Mar. Res., Yale Univ. [back]
  2. Dulvy, N.K. and J.D. Reynolds (1997). Evolutionary transitions among egg-laying, live-bearing and maternal inputs in sharks and rays. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 264:1309-1315. [back]
  3. Kaev, A.M., V.M. Chupakhin and N.A. Fedotova (1993). Trophic interrelationships of juvenile salmon in the coastal waters of Iturup Island. J. Ichthyol. 33(6):1-14. [back]
  4. Standard Deviation = 2,388.200 based on 77 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
  5. Charvet-Almeida, P., Faria, V., Furtado, M., Cook, S.F., Compagno L.J.V. & Oetinger, M.I. 2007. Pristis perotteti. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <>. Downloaded on 04 February 2012. [back]
  6. Eschmeyer, W.N., Editor (1999). Catalog of fishes. Updated database version of November 1999. Catalog databases as made available to FishBase in November 1999. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-11-20