Catfish Hunt Pigeons: Watch Fish Attack Birds On Land [VIDEO]

By Amir Khan on December 7, 2012 12:39 PM EST

Catfish
Catfish in France are able to lunge out of water to attack pigeons (Photo: PLoS ONE)

Catfish hunt pigeons? According to a new study they do. Taking a page out of the book of their namesake, catfish have started to hunt pigeons, according to a new study, published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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The catfish that hunt pigeons have only been seen in the Tarn River in south-west France, and researchers suspect that the catfish began to hunt pigeons due to dwindling prey populations in the river.

This unusual behavior has never been seen in catfish before, and has led to researchers calling the catfish that hunt pigeons "freshwater killer whales," according to the Daily Mail.

Most 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.

 "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."

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