A goose is a bird that belongs to any of a number of waterfowl species in the family Anatidae. The term can refer to either the male or female bird, however, when used in tandem with “gander”, refers to the female species.
Geese fossils have been found to range from 10 to 12 million years ago. There is evidence that points to the existence of a prehistoric relative that stood at a height of a meter and a half but is believed to have been flightless, unlike modern era geese.
There are a lot of people these days that seem to be under the impression that geese don’t have any teeth, however, upon closer inspection, it is quite obvious that they have quite the set! Let’s take a closer look at geese teeth, and discuss some of the related frequently asked questions we have seen coming up most often.
Are Those Really Teeth?
There are actually a lot of misconceptions and mistruths about geese teeth, including whether or not they have them!
The short answer here is yes, geese do really have teeth. It becomes quite obvious when you take the time to take a good look at some close-up pictures. However, when you get technical about the true definition of “teeth”, the answer here is actually no, those aren’t real teeth.
Geese have mouths that are full of hard spiky cartilage which is known as tomium (plural tomia). These rows of tomium look and function in the same way as a row of “real” teeth, but it is actually scientifically identified as a growth produced from the beak itself.
Tomium does have one distinctive characteristic that differentiates it from a real set of teeth and that is the lack of enamel. Enamel is the protective layer that covers human teeth and acts to prevent damage and deterioration.
What Is The Use Of Goose Teeth?
Geese don’t really use their “teeth” in the same way that humans use theirs. Although they do use them to rip, tear and masticate their food, geese teeth are actually also used to move food into the back of the mouth to be swallowed.
What About Tongue Teeth?
The presence of “tongue teeth” is yet another aspect of goose anatomy that has been talked about a fair amount in the past. The answer here is yes, geese do also have a set of those tomia or fake teeth we talked about on their tongues.
Although it is pretty intimidating, this isn’t just for show. The tomia create ridges on their tongues which allow them to grip and tear grass or other greenery they are eating without any problems. This would definitely be much harder for a goose with a smooth beak!
Do teeth make geese dangerous?
Goose teeth are actually very sharp in order to efficiently rip and tear their food for swallowing as they do not chew or grind it like humans. Although they are made of cartilage, they are actually incredibly hard and sharp and can most definitely draw blood if used aggressively.
There have been many reported cases of geese attacking humans and other animals when they feel threatened, sometimes even drawing blood or killing smaller animals.
So our verdict here is yes, teeth definitely make geese dangerous. Paired with their notoriety for being aggressive animals, they aren’t the best bird to be picking a fight with.
Do Geese Bites Hurt?
As we have just previously discussed, bites from geese have been reported many times and are confirmed to have the ability to even draw blood. Their “teeth” are incredibly hard and sharp and when used to attack a human or another animal can most definitely pack a painful punch.
It is a common misconception that geese are just larger ducks and that as such they will behave like ducks. However, geese are a very different species of bird especially when it comes to temperament and relative aggressiveness.
Geese are bigger, stronger, tougher, and a lot more aggressive than their duck relatives.
Get too close to a group of them or wander too close to one of their nests and they will almost definitely chase you down with a parade of oddly terrifying snakelike hisses. Let them get too close and if they have been provoked they may deliver a painful bite to really drive the point home.
Can A Goose Kill You?
It is highly doubtful and relatively impossible that an adult goose could outright kill a healthy, capable human adult. However, as we have discussed they are incredibly strong, they are tough and aggressive, and they are equipped to be able to cause significant damage to a human if the situation arises.
If one had some sort of excessive blood loss disorder for example, or if they were attacked while in or around a body of water there could be potential for a series of fatal events to occur. However, geese are not significantly large by any means and are definitely not biologically designed to prey on humans.
With this being said, a goose cannot kill you outright. They can however deliver a painful bite, especially if they choose to finish it off with a hard twist and rip. An angry goose is clearly nothing to further mess with. The larger geese have wingspans of up to 6 feet and can use them to deliver a beating, while their incredibly strong beak tears at flesh. If they gang up on you, it could turn into a bad situation very quickly.
What To Do If A Goose Chases You?
The phrase “goose attack” doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal, that is until it happens to you. Having a goose fully charge at you is a lot more of a traumatizing experience than you may think at first, especially because it isn’t really an animal that we have been taught to fear or avoid.
So what do you do if a goose decides to chase you? Well, let’s go over a few of the dos and don’ts in this situation.
- Walk backward very slowly. Do not make any sudden movements. Do not turn around and run away. These things will only provoke the goose and cause it to chase you.
- Do not try to intimidate the goose. Yelling, waving your arms and making loud noises are all bad ideas. These behaviors that you would normally use to try and scare off an animal like a bear are not the right plays. They will likely not intimidate the goose in any way, and will probably just instigate an attack instead.
- Do not let your kids or other parties chase the goose. It makes sense that children or others might want to get close and touch a goose or even catch one. Do not let them do this at any time. Kids are loud, move fast and clumsily, and tend to be accidentally rough with animals. Kids who are trying to pet or catch a goose will surely end up provoking it, and a goose could cause some significant damage to a smaller child given the opportunity.
- Do not feed the geese. Geese have been known to become more aggressive around food. If you are the one holding the food, there is a big chance that you will end up being the target of any aggression.
- If a goose does attack you, remain calm. Geese attacks are never life-threatening. Often the worst that will end up happening is a few cuts and scratches. In the event of a goose attack, do not run and do not panic. Make sure to cover your face, nose and eyes. Simply continue to back away slowly and steadily until the goose can no longer see you as a threat.
Can A Goose Kill A Dog?
This is a question that has been asked many times, as dog owners worry about walking their dogs in parks or near bodies of water that are home to geese.
The answer to this question depends mainly on the size of the dog. A medium-sized dog like a retriever or a lab that is full-grown would surely not be able to be killed by a goose. Weighing in around 50 pounds, they would significantly outweigh a goose and are much better equipped to win a fight to the death. This obviously means that a large-sized breed would also never be killed by a goose, given they are healthy and able.
When it comes to smaller-sized dog breeds, this is a different story. An angry goose under the right circumstances could kill a small dog. There have been stories and reports in the past of small dogs being killed by geese. As a result, we can confirm that yes a goose could kill a dog, given it is a smaller breed.
In order to conclude our discussion about geese teeth, geese attacks, and everything else geese related we covered, let’s get one thing straight. Geese are aggressive, temperamental, and yes they are equipped with “teeth” that can cause some real pain to a human who gets in their way.
We now know that geese have tomium, which are rows of cartilage that look like teeth. We know that these teeth can hurt, and we know that geese if provoked, can potentially fatally injure a smaller dog.
We have discussed a few tips and given advice on what to do if you are confronted by a goose, and how to avoid it.
Geese are territorial animals and should ideally be left to their own devices. Keep your distance and they will usually do the same!