12/01/2018

Puffer fish arrives at Bristol Zoo Gardens

A porcupine puffer fish has arrived at Bristol Zoo Gardens and its keepers say it’s like having a labrador.

Rudd has been brought to the 181-year-old Zoo from Sea Life in Birmingham and is already proving himself to be quite a character.

Olivia Orchart, aquarium curator at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “He has become a firm favourite within the team of keepers as he always shows up when food is going to be given out! 

“Puffers are huge characters and inquisitive animals that are interested in their environment – a little bit like labradors. 

“They are intelligent and we are going to train him to feed from a pole so that he doesn’t end up stealing the food from the sharks.”

Puffers are remarkable fish, also known as blowfish, and are found around coral reefs in tropical seas. 

They can grow up to 50cm long (almost two feet) and some have the amazing ability to inflate themselves into a virtually inedible ball to ward off predators. 

But they are also highly poisonous to anything which attacks them. 

Olivia said: “They have a neurotoxin in their internal organs which is more potent than cyanide making this family, the Diodontidae among some of the most poisonous vertebrates in the world. Very few animals prey on pufferfish.” 

It is believed pufferfish developed this ability to make up for their slow and clumsy swimming style which would make them an easy target for prey.

They also have four large teeth that are fused into two plates. These are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and molluscs which are their preferred prey.

Olivia said: “I want everyone to know just how amazing these guys are.”

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