Six fantastic facts about piranhas
Piranhas are a very interesting kind of fish that live in the rivers of South America, and they have a very fearsome reputation as predators. They aren’t quite as scary as they’ve been made out to be, however – so here are six fantastic facts about Piranhas.
1) Piranhas have sharp gnashing teeth
Ask anybody about piranhas, and the first thing they will tell you is that they have a row of razor-sharp teeth. These teeth are shaped like blades, and are used to tear the flesh of other fish, which makes up part of their diet. Piranha teeth are very much like shark teeth; and while piranhas grow their teeth back if they lose them (like sharks do), the difference is that piranhas grow them back a few at a time.
2) Piranhas are sometimes cannibals
Some piranhas have been known to eat each other. However, this is quite rare, and only happens when they have run out of their usual food supplies – like insects, plants, worms and other kinds of fish.
3) Some piranhas are vegetarians
Although piranhas have a reputation as fearsome meat-eaters, a weird fact about piranhas is that some are omnivorous – which means they eat both plants and animals. Certain kinds of piranhas even subsist on plants alone, such as the Tometes camunani in Brazil.
4) Piranhas can smell blood!
Piranhas have a very keen sense of smell, and studies have shown that they can smell a single drop of blood in 200 litres of river water – that’s one tiny drop of blood in around 350 pints of water! They are also very good at hearing, which is why they sometimes have been known to attack people splashing in water. Scientists think this might be because they associate the sounds with fruit and nuts falling out of trees into the water, which they like to eat.
5) Red-bellied piranhas make a strange barking noise
Another fantastic fact about red-bellied piranhas is that they make some very odd noises when they have been landed by fishermen. Scientists have recorded them making calls with their swim bladders to warn other fish (and humans!) not to interfere with them. They also make gnashing sounds with their teeth, and as a last resort, they may even bite.
6) Piranhas eat humans… but only if they are dead – or close to it!
Piranhas do eat human flesh on occasion, but only when the person is dead (or very close to death). The myth that piranhas will instantly strip the flesh from your body if you are in the water with them just isn’t true.
So there you are – six fantastic facts about a fish that has a bad reputation. Still, if you ever find yourself around piranhas, be sure to take care though – it’s better to be safe than sorry! And be sure to check out other information about piranhas on the web.
- World’s Deadliest : Piranhas Devour Chick by NatGeoWild
- Swimming With Piranhas by gkourounis
- Piranha Scissors by Pittikowksi
- BBC: Jungle: Piranha Fish Feeding Frenzy!
- Fish – piranhas will even try and bite through metal – Ultimate Killers – BBC wildlife
- Piranha strips meat to the bone! – Deadly 60
- Piranha Cam – Natural World 2012-2013: Giant Otters of the Amazon Preview – BBC Two
- 15 Most Dangerous Animals in the Amazon Rainforest by IP Factly