Catfish beaches itself to gobble up pigeons

The above video showing a freshwater catfish stalking pigeons and beaching itself in order to gobble them up accompanies "'Freshwater Killer Whales': Beaching Behavior of an Alien Fish to Hunt Land Birds," a paper in PLOSOne written by a group of French researchers who recorded the images on an island in France's Tarn river. The researchers hypothesize that the pigeons aren't adapted to watch for predators from below, and that the catfish are able to sense the pigeons' presence by the aquatic vibrations made by their drinking.

“Freshwater Killer Whales”: Beaching Behavior of an Alien Fish to Hunt Land Birds (via As it Happens)


        1.  From the linked abstract, “Among a total of 45 beaching behaviors observed and filmed, 28% were successful in bird capture.” So your 1 in 4 was pretty close!

  1. Strange timing for me, because I just discovered the many videos of pelican eating pigeons (and seagulls)… Seems pigeons never know who is going to eat them.

  2. This is unsurprising behaviour as catfish have been known to travel over land during times of low water levels in waterways.

    1. Did you read the same article on that as I did? The one where the writer included long, lovingly detailed descriptions of cattle which would duck their heads as their lips peeled back, and pluck up the cheeping little chicks at their feet before munching away? That stuff sticks with you.

  3. Admittedly a long way from catfish and pigeons, but some years ago I was surprised to see a chipmunk thoughtfully chewing on a mouse. Always thought they were vegetarians. Turns out there are several UTube videos of this phenomenon, and it’s a quite well-known behavior.

    Another fish that can spend substantial amounts of time on land are eels. Does anyone know if they will opportunistically attack small animals?

    Oddest animal behavior I have ever seen is a large group of mice in organized play (or perhaps a mating behavior)? Between a half-dozen and dozen running round and round a trodden-down track they had created, with a fair amount of vocalization and every appearance of glee and gusto. Seen in Windsor Great Park in the UK, in the company of others. I have searched for other accounts of the odd behavior, and have yet to find any. At least they weren’t engaged in cannibalism! 

    1.  I’ve seen video of a deer eating a bird and another of one eating steak. Herbivores evidently don’t mind a little meet if they can get some. There are crazy videos of this all over you tube.

  4. now if only we could get them to eat the idiot rednecks who insist upon shoving their hands into the catfish mouths…

Comments are closed.