19 Fin-tastic Facts About The Common Thresher For Kids

Fun common thresher shark facts for kids.

The common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus), the bigeye thresher (Alopias superciliosus) and Pelagic thresher (Alopias pelagicus) are the only living species of thresher sharks. The species was first described by Pierre Joseph Bonnaterre, a French naturalist in 1778. Originally the thresher was called Squalus vulpinis, but the name was later changed by Bonnaterre to Alopias vulpinus. The word 'vulpinus' is derived from the Latin word 'vulpes', meaning 'fox'. However, even before Bonnaterre named the species, Aristotle, the Greek philospoher named it 'Apolex' which is the Greek word for 'fox'. Aristotle named the species after foxes because his assumptions and theories about their behavior were proven inaccurate and false. Thus, leading him to believe that the thresher shark has high intelligence and is cunning just like a fox. These events made it possible to name the species in English i.e. the fox shark and sea fox! Common thresher distribution occurs in oceans and continental shelves of North America, Asia of the North Pacific and central-western Pacific.

Learn more about some other fishes from our Lungfish facts or John Dory facts pages.

Common Thresher

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Anchovies, schooling fish, and squid

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

440.9-1100 lb (200-500 kg)

How long are they?

10.5-20 ft (3.2-6 m)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Metallic blue-brown

Skin Type

Smooth and leather-like

What are their main threats?

Humans and larger sharks

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them



Northwest Atlantic Ocean and Cuba





Scientific Name

Alopias vulpinus





Common Thresher Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a common thresher?

The common thresher shark is a fish.

What class of animal does a common thresher belong to?

The common thresher shark belongs to the Animalia kingdom.

How many common threshers are there in the world?

Accurate data or the exact number is unknown. However, all three living thresher shark species are Vulnerable and face the danger of extinction.

Where does a common thresher live?

Common thresher sharks are found in oceans and continental shelves of North America, Asia of the North Pacific, and central-western Pacific. They migrate to open ocean waters of the north during summer and to the south during winters. Thresher sharks generally prefer living in tropical waters but migrate to temperate waters to hunt better prey. The common thresher range encompasses tropical, cold, and temperate waters worldwide.

What is a common thresher's habitat?

The common thresher (Alopias vulpinus) is a pelagic species, meaning they inhabit both coastal waters and the open ocean. The common thresher habitat includes shallow waters near shores, continental shelves, cand oastal bays. They are a highly migratory species and prefer wandering shallow waters until they are fully mature. After maturing, they migrate to open ocean waters and prefer living at a maximum depth of 1,800 ft (548.6 m).

Who do common threshers live with?

Common thresher sharks are solitary in nature and live alone. Some of the species however hunt in pairs or groups of three.

How long does a common thresher live?

A common thresher shark has a great lifespan and can live for 19 to 50 years.

How do they reproduce?

Thresher sharks undergo certain changes while maturing sexually. The male species are sexually mature when they are 8.8 ft (2.7 m) in size, whereas the female species grow up to 9.8 (3 m) when they reach sexual maturity.

Thresher sharks are oviparous which means the developed eggs are retained inside the females. These eggs are stored in a place known as the brood chamber. Once the male releases its sperm and the process of fertilization is completed, the embryo starts developing. It receives the required nourishment through the yolk sac. The females give birth to four to five pups, followed by a gestation period of nine months. The newborn pups have a rapid growth rate.

What is their conservation status?

The three living species of thresher shark species, including the pelagic thresher (Alopias pelagicus), bigeye thresher (Alopias superciliosus), and the common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus), have been declared Vulnerable for potential extinction. The population of thresher sharks has been decreasing rapidly due to various reasons, but the activity that has contributed the most to this situation is overfishing. Thresher sharks wander in shallow waters during the day and often get trapped in fish traps set for other aquatic animals and fishes. They get caught between bottom trawls and are disliked by fishers because they become entangled in the net thrown out to catch other fishes such as mackerel and anchovies. Near the continental shelves of the Indian Ocean, western, central, and eastern Pacific, thresher shark fishery is carried out on a large scale, mainly for their skin and liver oil which is processed into leather and vitamin-rich pills.

Common Thresher Fun Facts

What do common threshers look like?

Common thresher sharks have a wide but short head and a torpedo-shaped trunk. They are easily recognized by a long sickle-shaped tail fin which easily measures up to half its total body length. Their eyes are significantly larger than most shark species. They have a small arched mouth with 32-53 upper and 25-50 lower tooth rows. Their teeth are small triangular shaped with fairly sharp edges. They have deep furrows near their mouth and thresher sharks are brown and black on top. At times, it appears as a duo-chrome color and the belly is white. The common thresher size varies depending on the species' health and condition.

Interesting facts about common thresher sharks that will amaze you.

How cute are they?

Thresher sharks are the cutest among all other shark species. Compared to the other species of sharks that have sharper and devilish eyes, a thresher shark has big round eyes that make them look less scary.

How do they communicate?

Thresher sharks communicate just like any other species of sharks. They rely on their senses to detect potential prey and for navigation as well. Body language plays an important role in communication between sharks as they cannot make any sound. They arch their bodies or nod to communicate with each other. They can also feel vibrations in the water via the lateral line. It is a sensory organ that allows the species to navigate its surroundings and hunt efficiently. Common thresher sharks have great senses such as smell, hearing, and use electromagnetic senses as well.

How big is a common thresher?

A common thresher shark is 10.5-20 ft (3.2-6 m) in length. The blue whale is five times the size of a common thresher shark.

How fast can a common thresher swim?

Common thresher sharks can swim 30 mph (48.2 kmph).

How much does a common thresher weigh?

A common thresher shark weighs 440.9-1100 lb (200-500 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Common thresher sharks do not have separate names for their male and female species. They are referred to as males and females.

What would you call a baby common thresher?

A baby common thresher shark is called a pup.

What do they eat?

Common thresher sharks are carnivores and prey on smaller fishes. The common thresher diet includes hake, anchovies, herring, sardines, squid, and mackerel.

Are they eaten by humans?

Yes, they are in certain countries such as Taiwan, Japan, and Brazil. Consumption of their meat is considered exquisite which is also why its market value has skyrocketed.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though the species are Vulnerable to potential extinction there are no legal restrictions on keeping them as pets. However, sharks in general do not make good pets. Mainly because after maturing, their size changes drastically and so does their hunger drive. Even smaller species of sharks kept as pets require gigantic tanks, and a common thresher grows up to 10.5-20 ft (3.2-6 m) long. It's best to not hold them in captivity and let them live in open ocean waters.

Did you know...

Killer whales and other larger species of sharks prey on threshers.

There are crescent-moon shaped notches near the upper and lower origins of the caudal fin of a thresher shark.

Common threshers use their sickle-shaped tail fin as a whip to cause fatal blows to their prey.

Are thresher sharks dangerous?

No! thresher sharks are quite shy, they do not bite or cause any harm to humans. In fact, thresher sharks are not considered dangerous to humans, but humans are dangerous to this species.

What are the different types of thresher sharks?

The types of thresher species include the common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus), the Bigeye thresher (Alopias superciliosus), and Pelagic thresher (Alopias pelagicus). The common thresher shark is the fastest and largest of the three, the bigeye thresher has larger teeth compared to the other two and hunts a wider variety of prey. Finally, the Pelagic thresher is the smallest in size among the three.

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 thresher shark facts and horn shark facts for kids.

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



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