Why do pufferfish puff?

Behavioral Ecology Read more from
Chapter Animal Behavior

Pufferfish are any of a number of species found in warm seas that use a special adaptation of the gullet to inflate their bodies to nearly twice the normal size. Pufferfish, blowfish, and similar animals do this in response to a perceived threat. The increased size and unpalatable-looking spines make the potential prey look quite unappetizing to predators. One of these fish, the Fugu rubripes, or the Japanese pufferfish, is a specialty in sushi restaurants—but only specially trained chefs can safely prepare the fish for consumption by minimizing the presence of the fish’s deadly toxin, called tetrodotoxin, a compound 1,000 times deadlier than cyanide.


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