Puffer Fish Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Come learn about the deadly animal called a pufferfish. This lesson will teach you about pufferfish, where they live, what they eat, why some are so deadly and other cool facts about these fish!

What Is a Pufferfish?

Imagine you are swimming in the crystal blue ocean. You see what looks like an ordinary fish with a rounded head and big eyes and decide to take a closer look. As you float closer, that normal looking fish suddenly blows up to twice its size and looks like a balloon covered in spikes! You've just met a pufferfish!

A pufferfish is a fish that is usually poisonous and can blow up into a ball several times its regular size. The smallest pufferfish are about an inch long, and the largest are over twenty-four inches long!


If an enemy threatens them, they puff up by taking in water or air into their very stretchy stomach! It seems like they are holding their breath when they are puffed up, but they really aren't. They take in oxygen through their gills, which are special organs on the side of their body that let them breathe. Their gills are like our nose, but they get oxygen out of the water instead of the air. When they puff up, it's like you puffing out your cheeks with air and breathing through your nose!

Many kinds of pufferfish also have spikes on their skin that stick out when they swell up, making them even less tempting to an animal that wants to eat them! They look like a round, floating cactus!

The pufferfish's poison is deadly to humans and some animals if eaten. If an animal succeeds in eating a pufferfish before it puffs up, it will probably be the last meal it ever eats. The poison in their body and organs is so strong, one pufferfish can kill up to thirty people if they eat it, and there is no cure.

In some countries, people still think pufferfish are delicious! Specially trained chefs learn how to cut out the poisonous parts so people can eat them. If they don't do it right, the people eating the fish can die, and sometimes do, so it's a risky dinner that can be deadly!

Where Do Pufferfish Live?

Most live in warm ocean waters close to coastlines, but some live in areas where fresh and salty water mix, and some even live in fresh water that isn't salty.

Diver Holding a Pufferfish
Diver Holding a Pufferfish

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