Unlike cats and dogs, whose whiskers are made of hair, catfish have special whisker-like feelers made of skin. These sensitive feelers are called “barbels.”

Each barbel is loaded with tiny taste buds and special olfactory sensors to help the fish smell. Catfish tend to live in dark, murky waters where their vision isn’t very useful. Barbels help the fish search out food using their senses of touch and taste.

Though it may seem obvious how the catfish got its name, these barbel whiskers are not the only reason. When caught, catfish make a noise that sounds a bit like a cat purring.

But this may be where the similarities between catfish and cats end. Catfish can easily grow to become much larger than a cat — and sometimes even larger than a kid!

The world record catfish was recently caught in the Missouri River. This record-setting fish was nearly five feet long and weighed in at 130 pounds!

 

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From the Mighty Mississippi to Old Glory, it’s time to meet some real American heroes. Tomorrow Wonderopolis will share a wonder that gives thanks to the men and women who have made America the land of the free and the home of the brave.