Weever fish and other fish with venomous spines

Weever fish have venomous spines, from which the sting can be very painful. Rapid immersion in very hot water usually provides good pain relief.

Person with hand in water. Fish with brown spots and stripes and white belly

​Greater weever (Trachinus draco)​ is a fish with poisonous spines that can cause intense pain in the wound.

Stings from the spines of venomous fish can occur while fishing, bathing or handling. Gutting of fish can also cause symptoms as the toxin has an effect after the fish has died.

Venomous fish in Norway

Weever fish (Trachinus draco) can be found from the Swedish coast up to Trondheim Fjord. Other fish with venomous spines such as rabbit fish (Chimaera monstrosa), spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) are also found in coastal areas. Poisoning with golden redfish (Sebastes norvegicus) is uncertain, but experience shows that it causes similar symptoms to other venomous fish.

Symptoms if you are stung

  • Intense pain in and around the puncture site is common. The pain can radiate outwards.
  • Swelling, redness and impaired mobility are common. The swelling can in some cases develop and become extensive.
  • Dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting occur.
  • The pain usually passes within 24 hours, but local symptoms can be seen for days to weeks after being stung.
  • Complications and long-term effects may occur.

First aid in case of stings

  • Rapid immersion in very hot water usually provides good pain relief. Immerse the area of the body with the sting into water as hot you can tolerate (approx. 40-45°C). Check the temperature first by dipping an unaffected part of the body into the water (to avoid scalding).
  • Continue treatment with hot water until the pain has subsided (often within 30-45 minutes) or up to 90 minutes. Consider other pain relief if treatment with hot water is ineffective.
  • Tetanus vaccine must be considered.
  • In case of persistent severe pain after completing hot water treatment, severe general discomfort or recurrent symptoms, it is recommended to see a doctor.

Contact the Norwegian Poisons Information Centre if you suspect a poisoning

22 59 13 00

The phone service is open 24 hours a day.

Content provided by The Norwegian Poisons Information Centre

The Norwegian Poisons Information Centre. Weever fish and other fish with venomous spines. [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Monday, May 2, 2022 [retrieved Monday, May 20, 2024]. Available from: https://www.helsenorge.no/en/poison-information/giftige-bitt-og-stikk/the-greater-weever-fish-has-poisonous-spines/

Last updated Monday, May 2, 2022