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Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon) eating a fish

A piscivore /ˈpɪsɨvɔər/ is a carnivorous animal which eats primarily fish. Piscivory was the diet of early tetrapods (amphibians); insectivory came next, then in time reptiles added herbivory.[1]

Some animals, such as the sea lion and alligator, are not completely piscivorous, often preying on aquatic invertebrates or land animals in addition to fish, while others, such as the bulldog bat and gharial, are strictly dependent on fish for food. Humans can live on fish-based diets as can their carnivorous domesticated pets, such as dogs and cats. The name "piscivore" is derived from the Latin word for fish, piscis. Some creatures, including cnidarians, octopuses, squid, spiders, sharks, cetaceans, grizzly bears, jaguars, wolves, snakes, turtles, and sea gulls, may have fish as significant if not dominant portions of their diets.

Piscivorous is equivalent to the Greek-derived word ichthyophagous.

Examples of extant piscivores[edit]

Extinct and prehistoric piscivores[edit]

There are numerous extinct and prehistoric animals either hypothesized to be piscivores, or are confirmed to be piscivores through fossil evidence.

  • Baryonyx (scales of the fish Lepidotes have been found where its stomach should be)
  • Spinosaurus (Close relative of Baryonyx, is thought to have preyed on fish)
  • Laganosuchus (flattened head suggests that it passively waited for fish to swim near its mouth)
  • Pteranodon (remains of fish found in the beaks and stomach cavities of some specimens)
  • Elasmosaurus
  • Thyrsocles (Fossil specimen found with the stomach stuffed with the extinct herring Xyne grex)
  • Xiphactinus (A 4 meter long specimen was found with a perfectly preserved skeleton of its relative, Gillicus, in its stomach)
  • Diplomystus (A small relative of the herring, numerous fossils of individuals that died while trying to swallow other fishes, including smaller individuals of the same species, are known)


  1. ^ Sahney, S., Benton, M. J. & Falcon-Lang, H. J. (2010). "Rainforest collapse triggered Pennsylvanian tetrapod diversification in Euramerica" (PDF). Geology 38 (12): 1079–1082. doi:10.1130/G31182.1. 
  2. ^ Bright, Michael (2000). The private life of sharks : the truth behind the myth. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-2875-7.