Seagull vs. Poisonous fish

Subject: Seagull vs. Poisonous fish
From: Andrew Taylor <>
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 2009 12:15:30 +1000
On Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 10:20:16AM +1000, ?kos Lumnitzer wrote:
> A mate of mine from South Africa has captured a great image of a Gull
> carrying a pufferfish. See link...
> My question is that knowing that pufferfishes (fam. Tetraodontidae) are
> poisonous for humans to consume, what effects, if any, could they have on
> a bird such as a scavenging seagull that decides to ingest some of the
> flesh, which could kill a person rather fast?

Birds are thought to be more susceptible to tetrodotoxin than mammals.
The lethal dose of tetrodotoxin for a pigeon is estimated at 50 ug/kg,
so 1/10000 of a gram might kill a gull.  How much tetrodotoxin the fish
contains I don't know and probably varies significantly.

There are report of Great Horned Owls dying after consumption of a newt
species which produces tetrodotoxin.  Various snakes - and of course the
pufferfishes - are resistant to tetrodotoxin. There are suggestions crows
when consuming newt-eating snakes avoid the liver where the tetrodotoxin
in their diet accumlates.  Gulls would encounter Tetraodontids frequently
in australia at least so presumably they are adapted in some way that
fatalities don't result.


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