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An electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a species of fish that can generate electric shocks of up to 600 volts. It is native to the Amazon and Orinoco River basins in South America. The electric eel typically grows to a length of around 2.5 m (8 ft), and can weigh up to 20 kg (44 lb). It is an obligate air-breather, which means it must surface periodically to gulp air.
Behaviorally, electric eels are solitary creatures that hunt for their prey at night. They are carnivorous, feeding mainly on fish and other aquatic creatures such as frogs and small mammals. The electric eel uses its electric ability for both defense and hunting, they basically kill its prey with its powerful shock. The electric organs consist of three pairs of segments along the length of the body, which generate electric discharges of varying intensity.
Electric eels possess a unique set of physical features, including an elongated body, a long, flat head, and an underslung mouth. They have no scales, and their skin is covered in a thick mucous layer. The electric eel’s eyes are small and poorly developed, and they have no visible external ears. Moreover, they have two long, thin whisker-like barbels near its mouth that are used to detect prey in the dark.
They prefer warm, slow-moving waters with muddy bottoms and plenty of hiding places. Electric eels also inhabit flooded forest areas, where they can hide in the roots of trees and other vegetation. As we explain before, they tend to be found in freshwater rivers and streams in South America, mainly in the Amazon and Orinoco River basins.
Believe it or not, the electric eel has predators. As you may imagine, there are few of them due to the electric shock ability of the electric eel. However, caimans, piranhas, and large catfish can prey on electric eels, although they have to be careful not to be shocked.
Electric eels are under threat?
They are not in immediate danger of extinction, but they are threatened by habitat destruction and pollution. As the natural habitats of electric eels are being degraded by human activities, the number of electric eels in the wild is declining. In addition, overfishing and the illegal wildlife trade are also threats to them.
Can an Electric eel kill a human?
Yes, electric eels can kill humans. While electric eel shocks are not powerful enough to kill an adult human, they can cause serious injury, especially in children and elderly people. These human deads are not so common because electric eels are not aggressive and usually attack only when they feel threatened. Actually, the majority of deads have been indirect, caused by heart failure, respiratory affection, or drowning in shallow water before a repetitive discharge.
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