Geese are one of the most misunderstood animals when it comes to diet. They spend their whole lives on the water but they really don’t eat fish, even though they are quite capable of catching them.
Geese don’t eat fish because geese are not good at chewing and most fish are too large for them to eat. Geese lack the digestive enzymes required to digest large quantities of meat and fish.
This article explores why it is that geese don’t eat fish even though it’s an abundant source of protein all around them. We’ll also look at the rare situations where geese do fish and finally, why fish are a threat to young geese!
Do Geese Ever Eat Fish?
Geese have shorter digestive tracts than other animals, which is essential for long flights but not ideal for breaking down meat (fish).
Gees don’t usually eat fish, since they don’t have the ability to chew, and they don’t have a long intestine, which is required to break down complex proteins and fats present in meat.
Instead, geese have a short intestine that is perfectly suited to digesting plant matter which is why they get most of their nutrition from plants.
In spite of this, geese do sometimes eat very small fish (small enough that they don’t need to chew), insects, and aquatic invertebrates like tadpoles, or shrimp.
Why Don’t Geese Usually Eat Fish?
Geese, in general, don’t eat fish because they are foragers by nature, their digestive system isn’t suited to digesting meat and fish, they get all the nutrition they need from plants and bugs, and also geese are not good at chewing, so any large fish would be difficult for them to handle.
Here are the key reasons geese don’t eat fish.
1. Geese are Foragers
Geese are auditors by nature they’re not Hunters but instead, they eat seeds, aquatic plants, and other flora, and also so small bugs and fish.
Although geese aren’t natural hunters they may attack fish that are posing a threat to their young. Fish can snatch goslings from below the surface of the water.
Like all migratory birds, geese fly south for the winter, spending the winter somewhere warm where foraging is still a viable option even during the colder months.
Read More: Why You Shouldn’t Feed Bread to Geese
2. Geese Can’t Digest Fish
Geese get all nutrients from bugs, aquatic plants, leaves, grasses, fruits, and vegetables, and their digestive system is specifically designed to deal with this type of food.
Geese lack the digestive enzymes required to break down complex proteins found in fish and meat, meaning they could not extract nutrients and energy from fish even if they could eat it.
Geese have a short intestine and a two-chambered stomach, which is ideal for digesting plant matter, but insufficient for digesting meat and fish.
Read More: Can Geese Eat Meat?
3. Geese Are not good at Chewing
Geese’s teeth are terrifying, although technically they aren’t really teeth at all.
Goose teeth are designed to allow them to grip soft plant material, they are not good for chewing and they can’t really chew large chunks of meat or fish.
Read More: Geese Teeth Explained
This lack of chewing ability precludes geese from eating large fish, however, they sometimes eat very small fish if they can catch them because they don’t need to chew them and they are easier to digest.
When Do Geese Eat Fish?
Geese may eat small fish that they don’t need to chew, fish eggs, and tiny crustaceans like shrimps but only if they can not find enough plant material to fulfill their dietary requirements.
In a 1997 study by the Institute of Arctic Biology in Alaska, it was found that waterfowl like geese would search for protein-rich plants when they could not find sufficient food, over searching for non-preferred foods like fish or meat even when such non-preferred foods were available.
This shows us that geese don’t even consider fish to be food at all.
Are Geese Dangerous to Fish?
Yes, geese are dangerous to fish. Even though geese don’t eat fish, they may still attack and kill fish if they are close to their nesting site.
This is because some fish pose a threat to goose chicks and can attack them from under the surface of the water.
If you keep fish in a pond, geese can also kill fish indirectly, because their droppings are toxic in high quantities and contain dangerous bacteria.
In one example, geese droppings forced a beach in Michigan to close due to unsafe levels of E. Coli found in the water caused by goose droppings.
So to sum up, geese don’t eat fish because they don’t need to. Geese are natural foragers, they’re not hunters and they get all the nutrition and energy they need from plants.
Geese are not good at chewing, which means they couldn’t eat a large fish even if they could catch it. Geese sometimes eat very small fish that they don’t need to chew, and they may also eat small aquatic invertebrates like tadpoles or water beetles, or crustaceans like shrimps.
Although geese don’t eat fish, they still pose a threat to fish, since they attack fish that they perceive to be a threat to their young, and their droppings create a toxic environment both in and out of the water which can harm fish and the ecosystem they rely on for survival.
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.