Fun Nursehound Facts For Kids

Shivangi Pandey
Feb 20, 2024 By Shivangi Pandey
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Take a look at these incredible nursehound facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.4 Min

The nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellaris), also known as the greater spotted dogfish, bull huss, or large-spotted dogfish, is a catshark species in the Scyliorhinidae family. It is an oviparous species. After reproduction, the egg takes up to nine months to hatch commonly. It may be found at a depth ranging from 147-1300 ft (44.8-396.2 m) in the northern Atlantic Ocean amid rocks or algae. The most common depth is between 66 ft (20.1 m) and  197–410 ft (60-125 m). They are a large species of catshark, although they are less frequent in their area. You might want to take a look at our hogfish and kelpfish facts.

Nursehound Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a nursehound?

The Scyliorhinus stellaris is a shark found at depth of 66 ft (20.1 m) and 197–410 ft (60–125 m).

What class of animal does a nursehound belong to?

Thee Scyliorhinus stellaris is a mammal.

How many nursehounds are there in the world?

It has been classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since the population in the Mediterranean Sea appears to have decreased significantly due to overfishing.

Where does a nursehound live?

The nursehound habitat (Bull huss) is generally found from southern Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, Morocco, the Canary Islands, Mauritania, and Senegal in the northeast Atlantic. There are records further south, to the Gulf of Guinea and the mouth of the Congo River, although these are most likely observations of the West African catshark. It appears to have a spotty distribution across the island chains. Its distribution overlaps with that of the more common and closely related Smallspotted catsharks (has larger spots than it). The River Fal estuary and Wembury Bay in England, generally rough coastal locations throughout the Italian Peninsula, particularly the Santa Croce Bank in the Gulf of Naples, are known nesting grounds. In the spring or early summer, adults go to shallow water and mate solely at night.

What is a nursehound's habitat?

Bull huss (Scyliorhinus stellaris) are classified as benthic subtropical. The nursehound's distribution is commonly along the seafloor, in rocky regions with plenty of algae. They hunt at night, consuming cephalopods (such as squid and octopus), crustaceans (such as crabs and large shrimp), smaller fish, and even other sharks. During the day, they hide in rock holes and crevices, with many sharks occasionally resting in the same nook.

Who does a nursehound live with?

Nursehounds are nocturnal, spending hidden in holes during the day, frequently in small groups. Some have even been observed cramming themselves into the same tiny slot. At night, it may swim into deeper water to hunt. It's also a well-known scavenger. In captivity, nursehounds are social and prefer to relax in groups, however, the members of any given group vary often.

How long does a nursehound live?

The nursehound (bull huss) has a lifespan of 19 years length.

How do they reproduce?

The nursehound is oviparous, with one egg in each oviduct. In the spring and summer (March to October), they deposit their eggs. They lay large, thick-walled nursehound egg cases with powerful tendrils at the edges that grasp algae or seaweed. They can hatch in as little as seven months and as many as 12 months; eggs in the North Sea and Atlantic require 10–12 months to hatch, while those in the southern Mediterranean take seven months. Despite the fact that a single female generates 77–109 oocytes every year, not all of them are ovulated, and estimates of the actual number of thick eggs deposited range from 9-41.

The monogeneans Hexabothrium appendiculatum and Leptocotyle major, the tapeworm Acanthobothrium coronatum, the trypanosome Trypanosoma scyllii, the isopod Ceratothoa oxyrrhynchaena, and the copepod Lernaeopoda galei are known Bull huss parasites.

What is their conservation status?

Their status is Near Threatened. They are less frequent across their rocky range, and their numbers in the Mediterranean have fallen due to exploitation. Nursehounds are considered food in certain European nations under various names such as flake, catfish, rock eel, and rock salmon. It was previously prized for its rough skin (known as 'rub skin'), which was used as an abrasive. Rub skin was once so valuable, that 1 lb (453.6 g) of it was worth the equivalent of a hundredweight of sandpaper. The liver was also utilized as an oil source, and the corpses were chopped up and used as bait for crab traps. The nursehound's fins are occasionally dried and sold to the Asian market, or it is turned into fishmeal. All these factors reduce its lifespan. There is evidence that its population has dropped considerably in the Gulf of Lion, off the coast of Albania, and in the rocky Balearic Islands. Its populations in the upper Tyrrhenian Sea have decreased by more than 99 % since the 1970s. Many public aquariums have nursehounds on exhibit, and they have been reared in captivity.

Nursehound Fun Facts

What does the nursehound look like?

The nursehound is a strong, large, stalky creature with many tiny and large black spots and, sometimes, white patches all over a pale grayish or brownish background. The saddles are either very weak or completely missing. The big patches can be uneven and occasionally grow into enormous blotches that cover the entire body length. The ventral side is a light white color. The five pairs of gill openings are tiny, with the final two extending over the bases of the pectoral fins. The two dorsal fins are located in the rear of the body. The first dorsal fin is bigger than the second and originates above the pelvic fin bases. The pectoral fins are enormous. They have tiny nasal flaps that do not extend to their mouth.

This interesting fish has black spots.

How cute are they?

Anyone who has heard the popular 'Baby Shark' song would agree that these aquatic animals are a fascinating and thrilling subject for both children and adults. These beautiful animals are a matter of surprise due to their sleek body length and sharp features with white markings down their flanks, even though they are fierce and savage in nature.

How do they communicate?

Sharks can't produce any sounds, therefore they communicate through related body language. When two sharks 'speak' to one other, they may open their mouth, nod their heads, and arch their bodies along the length. When two sharks are pursuing the same prey, they will slap each other to dissuade the other. Their reproduction is oviparous.

How big is a nursehound?

Each egg case is 3.9-5.1 in (10-13 cm) in length. Hatchlings have reached a height of around 6.3 in (16 cm). It is usual for them to grow to 4.1 ft (1.25 m), with a maximum recorded at 5.3 ft (1.6 m). Newly hatched nursehounds develop at a rate of 0.01-0.02 in (0.45–0.56 mm) per day and have pronounced saddle marks. Sexual maturity is reached at a length of 2.5-2.6 ft (0.7–79 m), which corresponds to the age of four years assuming hatchling growth rates stay unchanged. Their egg cases are larger than Small spotted catshark purses. It has several big patches all over its body, as well as nasal flaps.

How fast can a nursehound swim?

Instead of swimming, they sometimes 'walk' across the bottom with their pectoral fins. Nurse sharks are less prone to wanderlust, as many of them stay in the same geographical region all year. However, some of them may succumb to the travel bug from time to time, making the shark 'partially migratory.' That is, some members of this species migrate while others do not.

How much does a nursehound weigh?

They can weigh up to 22 lb (10 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The presence of external reproduction organs, known as claspers, is the greatest way to identify between adult male and female sharks. Those with claspers are adult males, whereas those without are either females or immature males. There is no sex-specific name given to them.

What would you call a baby nursehound?

Pups are the name given to baby sharks. Sharks do not care for their young after birth, although they do look for a safe spot to deposit their eggs or give birth.

What do they eat?

Crustaceans (crabs, hermit crabs, and large shrimp), cephalopods, other mollusks, bony fish, and even other tiny sharks such as the smallspotted catshark are common in the diet of the nursehound. Mackerel, deep-water cardinalfishes, dragonets, gurnards, flatfishes, and herring are examples of bony fish. Crustaceans are consumed in greater quantities by juveniles.

The Nassarius reticulatus, the netted dog whelk, preys on nursehound eggs by piercing the casing and removing what is inside. Nursehounds can sometimes be sold on the menu in many European nations under various names such as rock eel, catfish, flake, and rock salmon.

Are they dangerous?

They pose little harm to people, but if you go too near and annoy them, their fangs may do some injury.

Would they make a good pet?

As they are a Near Threatened species, it is probably not a good idea to keep them as a pet.

Did you know...

Nursehounds deposit their eggs in the midst of seaweed. Curly tendrils on the egg cases wrap around the seaweed to keep the egg case from drifting away.

Why is it called nursehound?

The popular name 'nursehound' derives from an old English fishermen's idea that this shark looks for its smaller cousins, but the term 'huss' may derive from a linguistic distortion of the word 'nurse' through time. The nursehound is also known as the greater-spotted catshark, bull huss, greater-spotted dogfish, and rough hound shark. Carl Linnaeus provided the first scientific description of the nursehound in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae in 1758. He named it Squalus stellaris, with the specific epithet Stellaris meaning 'starry.'

Do they have teeth?

There are 22–27 tooth rows on each side of the upper jaw, with zero to two teeth at the symphysis. There are 18–21 tooth rows on each side of the lower jaw and two to four teeth at the symphysis. The teeth are smooth-edged and Y-shaped. The front teeth have a single central cusp, whereas the posterior teeth have two lateral cusplets. The teeth get increasingly smaller and more inclined towards the back of the jaws, with correspondingly bigger lateral cusplets. On the top rows, the teeth are narrow, with one exceptionally long, pointed straight center cusp and two very small, practically non-visible surrounding cusplets, and on the bottom rows, a single cusp.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these giant frogfish facts and giant guitarfish facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Nursehound coloring pages.

Nursehound Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Other fish

What Type of Animal were they?

Crustaceans, cephalopods, mollusks, bony fish, even other tiny sharks

Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

Up to 22 lb (10 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

eastern central atlantic, northeast atlantic, mediterranean, the black sea

Where Do They Live?

found all around the uk

How Long Were They?

Up to 63 in (160 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Scyliorhinus stellaris

What Do They Look Like?

Black spots cover the dorsal surface and saddle markings

Skin Type

Wet and slimy scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

overfishing and habitat loss

What is their Conservation Status?

Near Threatened
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Written by Shivangi Pandey

Bachelor of Fashion Technology specializing in Fashion Merchandising

Shivangi Pandey picture

Shivangi PandeyBachelor of Fashion Technology specializing in Fashion Merchandising

Shivangi is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Fashion Technology from the National Institute of Fashion Technology. She has a strong passion for the English language and communication, with a keen interest in fashion blogging. Shivangi's educational background and interests complement her ability to create engaging and informative content for readers.

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