Stingray Classification: Are Stingrays Mammals?

are stingrays mammals

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Stingrays are fascinating animals that can be found in many coastal tropical marine waters all around the world.

They are given a reputation for being deadly, but in actual fact are passive, non-aggressive animals that usually only sting when being accidentally stepped on by swimmers.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at stingrays and answer a question that often comes up when discussing these animals. Are stingrays mammals?

No, stingrays are not mammals and are instead fish. They have gills and breathe by extracting oxygen out of the water, just as fish do.

Are Stingrays Actually Mammals?

No, stingrays are a type of flattened fish that are closely related to sharks. Unlike mammals, they have gills and are not required to surface to breathe air.

Stingrays have flat bodies that allow them to stay camouflaged against the predators that lurk above.

They are made from cartilage and have no bones in their bodies. Stingrays have broad fins that are the length of their bodies and allow them to glide through the ocean effortlessly.

Stingrays belong to Elasmobranchs, which is a subclass of Chondrichthyes or cartilaginous fish.

Is A Stingray A Fish?

Although stingrays have wide, flat bodies and do not look like fish, they are. They are closely related to sharks, and just like their cousins, they do not have any bones in their bodies.

There are around 200 different species of stingrays on our planet, with many inhabiting the ocean but some living in freshwater.

All species of stingrays are classified as fish, as they are very different from mammals in that they do not have any mammalian characteristics aside from giving living birth.

More On Stingrays

Contrary to what many believe, stingrays are ovoviviparous which means they give birth to live young.

Mother stingrays keep the eggs inside of their bodies after they hatch, feeding the pups fluid and egg yolks to help them grow.

Due to the lifestyle that stingrays lead, the pups need to be competent swimmers by the time they are born, so it makes sense for the mom to feed them and allow them time to grow before giving birth.

Once born and after a few minutes of disorientation, the ray pup is capable of swimming, moving, and surviving all on its own, just like its mother.

There is no parental care needed which gives the ray the highest chance of survival when being born into the ocean.

This is one of the reasons why some people believe that stingrays are mammals, as just like mammals they give birth to live young.

However, this is the only mammalian characteristic that stingrays have in common with mammals, but everything else is more “fish-like”.

Final Thoughts

Are stingrays mammals? No, they are fish. Stingrays belong to Elasmobranchs, which is a subclass of Chondrichthyes or cartilaginous fish.

Along with sharks, skates, and sawfish, stingrays are boneless fish that are very different from marine mammals.

Stingrays have gills underneath their bodies that allow them to breathe by extracting oxygen from the ocean.

This means they can sit buried underneath the sand and hide from predators as well as keep an eye out for unsuspecting prey.

However, this is sadly the reason why swimmers and divers are stung by stingrays, as they startle the rays which prompt a self-defense sting.

Hopefully, this post has been informative and you’ve learned why stingrays are not mammals and are instead fish.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to share it with others who may find it of value.