Piranha – Frightening Little Fish
The piranha is found in the rivers and lakes of South America. It is a meat-eating fish with long, triangular, razor-sharp teeth. It is not very big, but when hungry it can be bold and savage. Some piranhas are silver with orange undersides. Others are almost totally black. All have strong jaws. The name “piranha” comes from the Portuguese words for “fish” and “tooth.”
There are 20 different kinds of piranhas in the Amazon River. The red-bellied piranha is the most famous and has the strongest jaws and the sharpest teeth. These fish hunts in schools of more than 100 fish. Piranhas have excellent hearing.
Most piranhas never kill large animals, and they almost never kill humans. Ichthyologists say that piranhas are very shy creatures. The abundance of legends and a lack of facts make this fish a real mystery of nature.
The size of the fish varies between 20-50 cm. And the weight of the largest representatives of the species, usually, does not exceed 1 kg.
The lower jaw of the piranha is slightly pushed forward, and the razor-sharp teeth are arranged in such a way that, when the jaws are compressed, there is absolutely no lumen between them.
To cross the Amazon, local shepherds are sometimes forced to give one of their animals to piranhas. And while predators are busy with lunch, other animals safely cross dangerous waters. However, local residents have long learned to coexist with piranhas and noticed that they are not always so evil.
The aggressiveness of piranhas depends on many factors: temperature, season, tides.
Piranhas are of great importance for the ecosystem. Like wolves in the forest, they eat dead, sick and weak animals.
These fish have a lot of enemies: caimans, river dolphins, large water turtles, larger predatory fish and of course, humans.
A school of piranhas can swallow an animal weighing about half a ton in a few minutes, but these fish will never attack if they are full. By the way, in addition to meat, algae must be included in their diet.
Piranhas are cannibals – they can eat each other if there are no sources of meat.
They live up to 25 years.