Do Catfish Have Teeth? Get The Answer Here!

Most of us reading this post love catfishing and might have some questions.

We all catch them and find methods for catching more catfish each time we hit the water.

There also comes a time when we must remove the hook from the mouth of the catfish which led me to wonder about one big question, do catfish have teeth?

After researching the question of whether catfish have teeth, here’s what I learned.

Do catfish have teeth?

Catfish do not have teeth in the traditional sense. They contain no incisiform teeth and feed using suction and gulping. They have no way of biting and or cutting the prey that they hunt.

Keep in mind that not having incisiform teeth does not mean they don’t have any teeth at all.

What Kind of Teeth do Catfish Have?

Even though catfish don’t have razor sharp teeth, they do contain small teeth that resemble the feeling of running your hand across sandpaper. In a traditional sense, these teeth will never hurt you.

If you’re just doing normal bank fishing or boat fishing for catfish, you will probably never wonder or care about catfish teeth again.

What if You Are Noodling For Catfish?

This is a completely different story and could leave some nice marks on your arm if you aren’t careful. We already discussed how catfish have sandpaper-like teeth instead of a traditional razor tooth.

coght catfish in mans hands

When you are noodling for catfish, your main goal is to get your arm deep into the catfish mouth and pull the catfish from the water.

This is where you may learn that dull teeth can still hurt.

Catfish are very strong fish with a lot of fight and grit to them. When noodling, a catfish is capable of violent head jerks and pulling you down into the water with them.

Those sandpaper teeth against bare skin are still not going to feel very good and can easily leave marks, scars and some skin abrasions if you are not careful.

Can Catfish Bite Humans?

A catfish can bite a human. The bite of a catfish is not a traditional bite with sharp razor teeth. If you experience a catfish biting you, it’s most likely in the process of noodling for catfish. When you place your hand in the catfish mouth, the catfish may clamp down.

You will experience the sandpaper-like feeling across your forearm when this happens but deep punctures are not going to be the case with catfishing biting humans.

The Noodle Sleeve

We are smart when it comes to adapting and coming out with new tricks and tips to perform our favorite hobbies. That nasty feeling those sandpaper-like teeth can leave on your arm has led to the creation of the noodle sleeve.

It’s a sleeve that covers your forearm up to your elbow. You will look like an NFL wide receiver wearing it, but it will help prevent the sandpaper-like teeth from scraping and cutting your skin when noodling for catfish.

Can You Touch a Catfish?

Yes, you can touch a catfish. You should, however, learn to handle a catfish properly to avoid taking a fin to the skin which can be very uncomfortable. You can use different techniques to hold the catfish to avoid this depending on the size of the catfish.

Besides that, it’s 100% safe to touch and handle catfish.

Any Other Dangers to be Aware Of?

A catfish can’t sting you. They can be annoying and break the skin however if you aren’t careful when you are handling them. Catfish have no ability to sting you. They do however contain fins right behind their large heads and on each side of the body right behind the head.

If handled properly, they won’t ever sting you or hurt you. The big misconception is that catfish can “hurt you” or attempt to sting you. It’s just not true. Catfish only can break the skin with these fins if you handle them inappropriately.

These fins are very sharp. I’m sure we have all been there where we get a nice little poke from one of these fins on the catfish. Especially in the smaller catfish that are a pain to grab or even channel catfish, typically seem to get you more often than blues or flatheads.

Are Catfish Poisonous to Humans?

Catfish can contain venom in the sharp spines. They contain venom glands that run along the sharp bony edges that we have all been stung by once or twice. The catfish can lock these fins into place when they feel threatened.

two man fishing

The catfish sting itself doesn’t harm the human besides it can hurt pretty badly but the potential for bacterial and fungus infections can present itself after the initial sting which is obviously no good for anyone.

You may experience after the initial sting some inflammation, discomfort and maybe even some muscle spasms. This varies greatly based on your geographical location and not all venoms in catfish are equal to other catfish depending on what waters they came from.

What do You do if You Are Punctured by One of The Catfish Fins?

If you happen to be punctured by a catfish fin, you can clean the wound with an antiseptic. Some would recommend seeing a physician, but I’ve personally been hit with these fins before and never had an issue before.

Yes, it’s uncomfortable but for the most part that’s the only issue, I dealt with following the sting.

Do Flathead Catfish Have Spines as Well?

Flathead catfish will have these same spines. They still have the same smooth skin, but they contain the same sharp spines on the back (dorsal fin) and the same pectoral fins as channel catfish have.

Handle flathead catfish with the same care you exercise with a channel and blue catfish.

How Bad Does a Catfish Sting Hurt?

Catfish stings are uncomfortable but don’t hurt as badly as you might think. The pectoral and dorsal fin sting can leave a nice sharp moment of pain.

If you clean the wound and cover it, it’s not going to hurt too badly for too long.

If possible, avoid the discomfort by handling the catfish properly but don’t be overly concerned with this happening.

It’s not the end of the world if it does.

Can A Catfish Sting Kill You?

I’m not a doctor so don’t have 100% comfort level answering this question, but I would say no, the catfish sting itself can’t kill you. However, whatever infection or aftermath occurs due to the original sting may be a different story.

Handle the catfish with care and if you are stung, consult a physician, clean the wound and cover the wound.

Are We Comfortable with Handling Catfish and If They Bite or Sting You?

Catfishing is an incredible sport. Millions of us partake in it but that doesn’t mean to careless when handling catfish. Overall, catfish aren’t going to bite you in a painful manner and the sting from a catfish all of us catfish anglers will probably experience at one point or another isn’t going to be the end of the world when it happens.

Learn to handle the catfish with care and exercise caution on where you grab the catfish and you will be just fine. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for the most recent news in the fishing world and my latest gear recommendations. As always, thanks for reading and stopping by.

You might also want to read my 9 easy tips to catching catfish.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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