are puffer fish poisonous to birds

Several waterbird species prey on fishes, and usually use only one sensory mode to detect this prey: herons hunt visually guided, whereas ibises mostly search tactilely guided. I report herein events in which a heron and an ibis caught and released a poisonous fish at a mudflat in southeastern Australia. A Great Egret (Ardea alba) that targeted small gerreid fishes caught and immediately released the very toxic pufferfish Tetractenos hamiltoni, with bill washing and discomfort movements afterwards. Two Australian White Ibises (Threskiornis molucca) that probed for bottom-dwelling fishes and crabs caught and handled these pufferfishes for about 60 s, before releasing them. Next, the birds dipped the bill in the water and resumed hunting. Pufferfishes are rarely preyed on by birds, but an Australian bird that feeds on this fish type is the Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), which eats the pufferfish Torquigener pleurogramma when it is nontoxic or less harmful.

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Sazima, I. Waterbirds catch and release a poisonous fish at a mudflat in southeastern Australia. Rev. Bras. Ornitol. 27, 126–128 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03544457

Up to 3ft in size and ballooning up to protect itself: The pufferfish

Pufferfish—also called blowfish—are found in oceans all over the world and can reach a maximum length of three feet.

They are thought to be some of the world’s most venomous vertebrates.

Scientists think pufferfish, which are slow swimmers, evolved their famous puffing behavior to elude predators.

The fish can expand to multiple times their own size and, if necessary, fill with air or water to make them more difficult to hold onto.

Additionally, some of the species have spines on their backs as an additional line of defense.

When the pufferfish deflate, fish may be able to pull them out of the water, but they will quickly come to regret their choice because the pufferfish skin releases tetrodotoxin, which has an unpleasant taste.

Although the toxin often causes birds to spit them out, some predators who manage to eat the fish may find that their stomachs are filled with the poison.

Certain species are consumed worldwide and are cooked by expert chefs even though they are not toxic.

It contains enough of the toxin to kill 30 humans.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4. 0 International License, which allows for use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and replication in any format or media, provided that the original author(s) and source are properly credited, a link to the Creative Commons licence is provided, and it is made clear if any changes have been made. Unless otherwise specified in a credit line to the material, any images or other content from third parties included in this article are licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons license. You must request permission directly from the copyright holder if the material is not covered by the article’s Creative Commons licence, your intended use is not allowed by statute, or it exceeds the allowed use. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/4. 0/.

Many species of waterbirds hunt fish, and they typically use one sense mode to find their prey: ibises primarily search by touch, while herons hunt visually. I describe here an incident at a mudflat in southeast Australia where a heron and an ibis caught and released a poisonous fish. After catching and releasing the highly toxic pufferfish Tetractenos hamiltoni, a Great Egret (Ardea alba) that was pursuing small gerreid fishes displayed bill washing and discomforting movements. After searching for bottom-dwelling fish and crabs, two Australian White Ibises (Threskiornis molucca) caught and handled these pufferfishes for roughly 60 seconds before releasing them. The birds then went back to hunting after dipping the bill in the water. Though they are rarely eaten by birds, silver gulls (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) in Australia consume pufferfish, specifically Torquigener pleurogramma, when they are less dangerous or nontoxic.

Sazima, I. In southeast Australia, waterbirds capture and release a poisonous fish from a mudflat. Rev. Bras. Ornitol. 27, 126–128 (2019). https://doi. org/10. 1007/BF03544457.

FAQ

Can seagulls eat puffer fish?

Pufferfishes are rarely preyed on by birds, but an Australian bird that feeds on this fish type is the Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), which eats the pufferfish Torquigener pleurogramma when it is nontoxic or less harmful.

Are puffer fish poisonous to animals?

Pufferfish, either alive or dead, can be fatal to both humans and dogs alike if ingested in large enough quantities. The fish doesn’t just have to be eaten, even just chewing or licking can lead to a serious case of poisoning. At first your pooch may seem fine, but without treatment paralysis can soon set in.

What animals can eat puffer fish?

Sharks are the only species immune to the puffer fish’s toxin. They can eat puffer fish without any negative consequences. In Japan, the meat of some puffer fish is considered a delicacy- called fugu. It can only be prepared by trained, licensed chefs who know that one bad cut means almost certain death for a customer.

Can an eagle eat a pufferfish?

A SEA eagle has its talons full finding something to eat — a fully-inflated puffer fish. The majestic bird circled with its prickly catch — which expand when threatened — before vanishing to eat it in the Andaman Sea off Thailand.