NANFA-L-- Why madtom venom?

Christopher Scharpf (
Mon, 14 Feb 2005 22:29:39 -0400

Good question. And the bad answer is: No one really knows. An anti-predator
defense seems to be the obvious answer. However, madtoms are often used as
bass bait, and are frequently eaten by water snakes.

It's important to note that ALL catfishes are venomous, some more so than
others. Studies in other catfishes are showing that the venom may be part of
the fish's antimicrobial defense against skin pathogens, part of the fish's
immune response system, facilitates wound healing, and may assist in
chemical communication with conspecifics. The fact that catfishes produce a
substance that is painful to humans may mean nothing more than that the
substance hss no business being accidentally injected into humans.

Chris Scharpf

> From: "Bob Muller" <>
> Reply-To:
> Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 21:20:41 -0500
> To: <>
> Subject: NANFA-L-- Michigan Chapter
> Last week I gave a talk on native fishes to the Clinton Valley chapter of
> Trout Unlimited. It was well received with lots of questions and interest in
> the other fish in their trout streams. One question I have never gotten
> before. In talking about the madtoms venom I was asked what for. I would
> guess it helps them from being eaten any other ideas.

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