Oct 30, 2008: Spotted Ratfish

Tideflat Critters

The ratfish is a ridiculous creature. It has the body of a shark, the tail of a rat, the eyes of a lemur, and the face of a rabbit. We found a sorry looking specimen out on the tideflats a couple of nights ago. It was alive, but not at all lively.

Ratfish don't have scales, live between 40 to 300 feet deep, and eat like an ancient dachshund: they use their teeth to mash up shrimp, worms, clams, and fish. This particular fish had a strange growth on its forehead. It looked like a little worm. We couldn't find anything about it on the internet. Any thoughts?

Because a Ratfish's body is supported by cartilage, it goes limp when removed from the water. But still, it was a little disturbing to see this fish looking so helpless. We found it lying on the oyster beds and put it into a slough still filled with water from the outgoing tide.

The next morning, after doing some research on the ratfish, we learned this from Wikipeia:

They also have a venomous spine located on the front of their dorsal fin.
the ratfish is able to inflict a mildly toxic wound.
So the next time we attempt to rescue a ratfish in distress, we won't use our bare hands! Ratfish, chin up.

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  • randy brush on

    i like the photos and the information on the ratfish that is on the blog and the pics are awesome looking.!!!!

  • Octopus is still huge even though we only found half of it. on

    […] lair a spooky concept!) We don’t have a picture of a dogfish, but here’s a photo of a ratfish we found a few years ago. Seems like if something eats dogfish it’s likely to eat ratfish […]

  • Oyster Fan on

    Awesome! How did that salacious ratfish fact not immediately catch my eye? Thanks for sharing Michelle.

  • Michelle on

    The worm like projection on the head of the ratfish was a type of copulatory structure—they may use it to grasp females during mating. It also implies that your ratfish was male, since the males are the only ones to have this structure.

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