Geese can and will bite if they feel threatened or if you get too close to their nests. Although geese bites aren’t usually too dangerous to humans, bites have been known to cause bruising and bleeding and can sometimes get infected.
Disclaimer: This is information for entertainment and educational purposes only. Do not approach a wild animal and keep your distance. Only professionals should handle wild animals. Seek professional help immediately if you have been bitten or otherwise harmed. Consult your local wildlife authority for the right advice for your situation and locality.
In this article, we’re going to learn all about geese bites, including why they bite, how dangerous their bite is, how likely you are to get bitten, and how to avoid being bitten if you have to work around geese.
Can Geese Bite?
Geese can bite, but it’s unusual for them to bite humans. Some geese species (especially Canada Geese) have a reputation for aggression, but all geese are herbivores (mostly) and they only bite defensively when they feel threatened.
Geese have a row of cartilage in place of teeth, known as tomia. Although tomia are sharp and can break the skin in rare circumstances, most of the time a bite from a goose just feels like a strong pinch.
One thing to note is that although geese don’t have teeth, they can still cause problems for humans. In 2021 an aggressive goose made the headlines in Detroit, when it began attacking customers in a parking lot who got too close to its nesting spot.
According to a local news article from the time, one man was knocked over and suffered bruising from the aggressive pecking of the goose.
Why do Geese Bite?
1. Defending their Territory
Geese are very territorial. If you get too close to what they consider their territory they will hiss, flap their wings, and peck at you until you leave.
Geese will hiss and flap their wings if they are feeling aggressive, they may lower their head or swing their neck around to make themselves look more menacing. This is known as a threat display
2. Protecting their Nest and Eggs
Most geese are ground nesters, meaning they make their nests on the ground. This means their eggs are vulnerable to predators and the adult geese have to defend them aggressively to keep them safe.
If you get close to a goose nesting spot, you’re likely to encounter an angry goose who will peck at you, dive at you from the air, knock you over and flap their wings at you until you leave the area.
In most parts of the world, geese are protected species and you may not destroy their nests, so it’s best to leave them alone and try not to disturb them.
Geese have been around for a lot longer than humans have and it’s not their fault that the nesting spot they have been using for thousands of years is now a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Read More: Where Do Geese Lay Their Eggs?
3. Fighting Over a Mate
Geese are well-known for their monogamy, which is quite rare in nature. Although geese mate for life, the males become aggressive around breeding season as they defend their mates and the unpaired geese fight over mates.
In most cases, geese breed during early spring at their northern nesting grounds, so it’s unlikely that you’ll accidentally get in the way of an angry goose for this reason. Geese from West Africa, Europe, and North America make their way north to the Arctic to breed and nest.
Are Geese Bites Dangerous?
Geese bites, though definitely a little painful, are not really all that dangerous for humans. In fact, there are zero reports of humans being bitten to death by geese.
Though they don’t have teeth, the tomia found on goose tongues and beaks are still quite sharp and could break the skin.
In most cases though, even a very angry goose bite is unlikely to result in any more than a hard pinching feeling and potentially some bruising.
How To Avoid Being Bitten by a Goose
Some species of geese have a pretty bad reputation for being aggressive, but as with most animals in nature, they generally just want to be left alone and won’t bother you unless you threaten them.
The best way to avoid being bitten by a goose is to stay well clear of them. Geese are territorial and will attack anything they see as a threat, especially during nesting season. If you have to cross their path, move slowly and try not to scare them.
Look out for any sign that the goose is agitated. Geese will extend their necks and wings to make themselves as large as possible, look at you with their head turned sideways, flap their wings, and hiss at you before they attack.
Keep your eye out for these signals, as some geese have been known to charge at high speed when people get too close to their nests. An adult goose can weigh around 5kg (about the weight of a large pumpkin) so they can easily knock you over or cause some serious damage.
If you absolutely must pass an aggressive goose, make yourself as large as possible by raising and waving your arms. Make noise by shouting to scare them off. This method is not recommended, as you risk injuring yourself or the animal, and if a goose feels threatened around their nest it can lead to them abandoning their eggs.
How Likely are Geese to Bite?
Most geese only bite as a last resort when they feel threatened, though it varies between species and individual birds.
Some species like Canada Geese have lost their fear of humans over the years and tend to be more aggressive than other species, while some species like the Grey Landes Goose are cruelly force-fed to produce Foie Gras in France and some other countries and are too terrified of humans to bite.
If you’re worried about geese biting you, the best option is just to stay clear of them and leave them alone. Even some of the more aggressive species do not go out of their way to attack humans, and will only bite if they feel you are encroaching on their territory.
Geese can bite, but they don’t normally bite humans. Even when they do, their bite is ineffectual and usually just causes a little bruising.
Situations where geese will bite include humans threatening a goose, humans threatening a goose’s nest, or humans encroaching on a goose’s territory.
As long as you leave geese alone, they are usually quite social and friendly birds. In parks and farms where geese have become accustomed to humans, they will happily eat seeds from your hand.
Stuart is the editor of Fauna Facts. He edits our writers’ work as well as contributing his own content. Stuart is passionate about sustainable farming and animal welfare and has written extensively on cows and geese for the site.