Interesting Facts about Piranhas, Predator Fish from South America

Piranha fish are often described as ferocious freshwater fish, because of their nature as carnivores.

If you’ve ever watched the Piranha movie, surely you are familiar with the ferocity of these predatory fish. Piranhas have sharp teeth and a high prey instinct, making them one of the most feared fish species.

But is the ferocity of the piranha in the film the same as the life of the fish in the real world? Here are some unique facts about piranhas that you need to know.

1. The bad image of piranhas stems from the writings of Theodore Roosevelt

The terrible impression and ferocity of piranha fish was first written by the former President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, in his book entitled Through the Brazillian Wilderness.

The book tells of Roosevelt’s journey to South America in 1913, where at that time Roosevelt met several species of piranha.

When Roosevelt traveled to the Amazon, Brazil, in 1913, the locals wanted to put on a show for the former president of the United States.

Residents deliberately threw a live cow into a river filled with piranhas. These fish were previously caught and left to starve.

When the cow enters the water, the hungry piranha immediately eats the cow with its sharp teeth, leaving only bones.

In his book, Roosevelt mentions that piranhas are perfect killing machines. This fish is considered more terrible than sharks and barracuda fish.

Piranha fish are also said to be able to mutilate people who are swimming in rivers or large animals that are injured.

2. Its natural habitat is in South America

The piranha’s natural habitat is rivers in South America. Piranhas are found along the Orinoco river in Venezuela to the Parana river in Argentina.

Until now it is estimated that there are about 30 species of piranha fish that live in lakes and rivers in South America.

Piranha fish are also predicted to have inhabited rivers in South America millions of years ago. Piranha fossils prove that these fish began to occupy rivers in South America since 25 million years ago.

3. Piranha teeth are strong and sharp, but they can fall out

The name “piranha” comes from the language of the Tupi people, a tribe that lives in Brazil. Piranha itself means “jagged fish.” This is in accordance with the characteristics of these fish are sharp and terrible.

Piranha is famous as a type of fish that has a strong and sharp bite accompanied by non-stop bites on its prey. The shape of the piranha’s teeth is often compared to a sharp knife. The shape of the piranha’s teeth is also adapted to the fish’s diet.

The piranha’s tooth structure is actually similar to that of a shark, so it’s not uncommon for piranhas to lose their teeth throughout their lives.

4. Piranhas only eat human corpses, not living humans

What is shown in the film Piranha is actually just an exaggerated story. In fact, piranhas will not eat humans alive and well.

The idea that piranhas can eat humans alive is probably just a myth. Indeed, there have been several cases of piranha eating humans in South America, but usually the previous victim drowned or died before falling prey to piranhas.

According to research, it takes about 300 to 500 piranha fish to eat 180 kilograms of human flesh in just about 5 minutes.

5. Piranhas are generally meat eaters, but some are vegetarian

Piranha food is insects, fish, shrimp, carrion worms, and seeds. If food sources are reduced, piranhas can become predators of other piranhas, both living and dead.

Although piranhas are known as meat-eating fish, there are several types of piranhas that eat seeds and plants.

6. Piranhas only attack when disturbed

Piranhas do have a reputation for attacking humans, but actually these fish only attack if disturbed.

Usually, piranha fish attack divers if the river water level drops, prey starts to run out, or something disturbs their eggs.

Thus, if a person is in a situation where the piranha is very hungry or feels threatened, the fish will become more aggressive and may attack humans.

7. Piranhas can bark

One of the uniqueness of the piranha fish is that it can make three distinctive sounds as a warning to its opponent. When threatened by other fish, the piranha will make a sound similar to the barking of a dog.

When fighting with other fish, piranhas emit a grunt or thump sound produced by the swimbladder organ.

If the opponent does not immediately retreat, the piranha will grit its teeth and immediately chase the enemy.

8. Attacking prey on the tail or eyes

In a study conducted in 1972, it was stated that the distended red piranha attacked its prey in the tail or eyes.

According to the researchers, the behavior of this piranha fish is an effective attack strategy to paralyze prey.

Here are some unique facts about piranhas, predatory fish from South America. Hope it is useful.

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