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Pigeon-Hunting Catfish

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Catfish are a weird fish. They live in muddy lakes and rivers patrolling the bottom, using their whisker-like barbels to find their prey. It seems like they’ll eat just about anything. You’ve probably seen those noodling shows where they’ll bite an arm or a leg of a “hand fisherman.” Or what about the technique where anglers rig a bag of chicken livers to a two-liter bottle and then retrieve the bottles with hooked catfish later? There’s a reservoir by my house where the preferred bait is a piece of hot dog!

None of these baits are as an unusual, though, as what some French scientists recently observed some catfish eating.

wade_wels-catfishMost catfish are vegetarians, feeding on plants, decaying food and fish eggs on the bottom of the river. However, in Tarn river, the catfish are now hunting pigeons. Researchers spent five months watching the catfish hunt pigeons, and during that time, witness catfish hunt pigeons more than 50 times. A quarter of those times, the catfish hunting pigeons managed to capture the bird.

The European catfish is considered an invasive species in the Tarn river, as it was introduced there in 1983. Researchers said it’s possible that the catfish have turned to hunting pigeons because they decimated the food population in the area.

Photos: Public Library of Science (top); Animal Planet (above)

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