Catfish Kill and Eat Pigeons

A newly observed behavior in European catfish. Given that some catfish have blamed for taking monkeys and even human children, this  isn't too shocking, but it is interesting. 

Catfish Hunt Pigeons: Watch Fish Attack Birds On Land [VIDEO] - International Science Times
"These particular catfish have taken to lunging out of the water, grabbing a pigeon, and then wriggling back into the water to swallow their prey," researchers wrote in the study. "In the process, they temporarily strand themselves on land for a few seconds."



7 comments:

  1. Just like orcas catching seals...

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  2. Not that shocking, I suppose. My experience of catfish (and that of others who've kept or even observed them for any length of time) suggests that they're among the more intelligent fish and capable of learning from experience: also, while we tend to think of fish merely preying on baby waterfowl (or in the case of sharks, groupers, goosefish, etc., seabirds and well-grown waterfowl) I've spoken to people who've seen bass leap up to take drinking swallows, and an old schoolteacher of mine--since deceased, God rest his soul, he would have LOVED this blog--saw a largemouth bass jump up to take a red squirrel off a drooping willow branch. But the stranding bit is new on me. It's fascinating because it suggests the fish--to repeat the performance--had to "think things through" a little: I can grab that bird; I will strand myself; I can get back to the water if I do this right.

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  3. That squirrel incident is pretty amazing. . . though I have heard similar astounding tales of muskie.

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  4. Back to the catfish, though--I'm not so sure the stranding part requires any special intelligence. It takes the bird, it thrashes around instinctively until it slides back into the water. No smarts required. As far as planning, the catfish simply has to NOT learn that land is an unpleasant experience.

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  5. Once, I'd grant, is a fluke...but if the fish is repeatedly doing this, based on what I've observed of other species of catfish, to my mind there's no doubt that learning of some kind is taking place even at a rudimentary level. The chances are one or two unpleasant experiences of being even momentarily stuck on land would be sufficiently upsetting to not repeat the performance, unless the fish is able--albeit on some primitive level--to grasp that it has something to gain from doing something contradictory to its nature to begin with. I certainly doubt they actually think it through in human terms, but there has to be some level of learning taking place for them to pull this off more than once.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. You see the same with other kinds of fish like arowanas.

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    2. It does seem as if they're at least learning to seek food on land.

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