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Could any creatures blow fire like a dragon? © Nature Picture Library

Could any creatures blow fire like a dragon?

Published: 30th March, 2022 at 18:00
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Out of its mouth? No. Out of its backside? Yes! Well, almost.

There are no fire-breathing dragons, but there is the bombardier beetle, which ejects a hot, fiery mixture from its butt when threatened. The spray is produced by the reaction between two chemicals; hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, which are stored in separate abdominal compartments before coming together with a bang.


The resulting heat brings the mixture to almost 100°C and produces gas which drives the expulsion. This means that if a bombardier beetle gets eaten by a toad, it can literally fart its way out of trouble. It lets rip inside the amphibian’s belly until the predator vomits it up.

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Asked by: Pad Scanlon, via email

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Helen Pilcher
Helen PilcherScience writer, presenter and performer.

Helen Pilcher is a tea-drinking, biscuit-nibbling science and comedy writer, with a PhD in cell biology.


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