Do Catfish Bite Humans? Should You Worry About Catfish Bites?

When you’re noodling for catfish, you need to get your arm deep into the catfish’s mouth to pull them out of the water.

When you place your hand in the catfish’s mouth, the catfish might clamp down on your hand and that’s when bites are most likely to happen.

So, do catfish bite humans? Catfish do not bite humans. They have small dull teeth that are angled inward. The way their teeth are shaped doesn’t allow them to bite and it makes it difficult for them to cause any severe injuries even if you put your hand into a catfish mouth.

Keep reading to learn more about how strong catfish teeth are and how to avoid their bites.

What You Need to Know About Catfish Teeth

catfish teeth to answer do catfish bite humans

Catfish don’t have strong, sharp teeth like most large fish species. Their teeth are small, thick, and angled inwards.

Since catfish are omnivorous, they feed by sucking and gulping, instead of biting or chewing their food. So, they only rely on their teeth to prevent their prey from escaping.

The way catfish teeth are angled inwards ensures their prey can easily get into their mouth while also making it harder for the prey to escape.

How Strong Is a Catfish’s Bite?

Catfish bites are not very strong. They won’t cause any injuries like ripping your fingers off. That is because their teeth are smaller than most other fish species and they’re not sharp enough to break your skin. Their teeth are also angled inwards which makes it difficult for them to bite.

Does A Catfish Bite Hurt?

No, a catfish bite does not hurt. However, it might be unpleasant to get in contact with catfish teeth because their teeth are abrasive and feel like rough sandpaper. Their teeth might slightly scratch your skin and leave marks or skin abrasions if you are not being careful.

How to Avoid Catfish Bites?

Here are some tips that you can follow when you’re noodling for catfish to avoid getting bitten by them:

  • Invest in a noodling sleeve. Their main purpose is to cover your arm up to your elbow or shoulder which will make it harder for the catfish to get their teeth directly on your skin.
  • When you’re lifting the catfish out of the water, try to gently apply equal pressure on all parts of the fish’s body using your entire hand, so the fish won’t slip out of your hand.
  • keep your grip on the catfish fixed as much as you can and try not to let them squirm in your grip. Only make minor adjustments to your grip when it’s absolutely necessary because the more the fish moves around, the more likely you are to get bitten or injured.
  • Hold the catfish by the line and grip its tail if it is small enough. When you’re gripping the tail, make sure to move your hand slowly up the body of the catfish until your hand is positioned against the back of their pectoral spines.
  • Use a two hands grip for more support. Fully grown catfish can be very heavy so, you need to position one hand against the back of their head while the other is on the tail section to make it easier to lift.
  • Holding the catfish with two hands will also give you more control over the catfish if they begin to thrash around violently. Keep in mind to position both your support hands far away from their sharp spines.
  • Be very careful when you’re releasing the catfish back into the water. Make sure to lower the catfish as close to the water as possible then slowly loosen your grip. Keep in mind not to let your hand brush along the fish’s back.
  • Do not try to toss the catfish in the water, instead, let it smoothly slip underneath the surface so it can move on its own. Make sure to keep your fingers behind the spines and let the fish simply swim away.

For more tips, check out my guide on Catfish attacks on humans here.

What Can You Do If You Get Bitten by A Catfish?

If you happen to get bitten by a catfish and you start bleeding, you need to apply direct pressure on the wound using clean bandages until the bleeding stops.

If it’s only a minor scratch, you can rinse the wound with fresh water, then apply antiseptic and dress the wound with clean bandages to help prevent any infection.

What Catfish Can Kill You?

There are 1,250 species of catfish that are venomous. However, most of these catfish species use their venom as a defense mechanism.

Catfish venom is contained in the sharp spines located on their pectoral and dorsal fins. The tips of these spines are very sharp, especially on smaller catfish.

While it doesn’t hurt to touch the spines, it can be dangerous if you accidentally puncture your skin on one of them. That’s because getting exposed to catfish venom can be painful. It will cause swelling along with a rapid increase of blood flow in the area of the injury.

So, it’s very important to clean the wound fast and contact emergency services to avoid developing any infections or risk severe blood loss.

Conclusion: Should You Worry About Catfish Bites?

No, you shouldn’t worry about catfish bites as long as you’re being careful.

They’re not strong enough to cause you any pain or serious injury. There are many precautions you can take such as wearing gloves or noodling sleeves to protect yourself from their teeth.

You can also invest in a lip grip tool that will allow you to securely lift the fish by the lip without even putting your hands directly on it.

If you are going fishing for Catfish soon, make sure to check my recommended Catfish Rods here. These are the ones that brought me my biggest catches, so they are definitely worth your time to check them out.

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve tested dozens of reels, rods, and lines for Catfishing, and after years of testing, here are my quick picks that will definitely improve your current setup and results!

My recommended reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Reel C3-7000 which is ideally suited for catfish.

The rod I always recommend is the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod. It’s lightweight, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d have a wide selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looking for a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be getting two rods rather than one.

What I use is the Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line as it’s the strongest, toughest mono I’ve ever tested and because it has exceptional shock strength, great knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option, you really can’t find better options

I also have a guide for the best catfish reels here that will help you choose correctly as I’ve tested dozens of reels over the years and found the ones that get the best results without hurting my wallet so much, or yours.

Related Questions

Are catfish Violent?

No, catfish are not violent by nature. Catfish will mind their own business most of the time. When they feel threatened they will release a unique venom from the sharp spines located on their pectoral and dorsal fins to defend themselves against their enemies.

How to Correctly Hold a Catfish?

The correct method to hold catfish is to grip them from the top while keeping your hand positioned directly behind their pectoral and dorsal fins. Make sure you’re resting the area between your thumb and forefinger behind the dorsal fin.

Helpful Resources 

Fishing for Catfish: The Complete Guide for Catching Big Channells, Blues and Flatheads

Resources for Catching Catfish Faster and More Easily

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