Electric Eel (Electrophorus electricus)

Electric eel is deceiving…they are not a true eel but rather a knife fish (Gymnotiformes).   These creatures inhabit the fresh waters of the Amazon and Orinoco River basins in South America, in floodplains, swamps, creeks, small rivers, and coastal plains. They often live on muddy bottoms in calm or stagnant waters.

These deadly creatures are capable of producing lethal levels of electricity, up to 600 volts (5 times the power of a standard electric wall socket).   These electrocutioner\’s have two main organs in their body that produces two types of electricity, low voltage and high voltage.   These organs contain about 6,000 specialized cells called electrocytes that store power like tiny batteries. They are capable of varying the intensity of the electrical discharge, using lower discharges for “hunting” and higher intensities for stunning prey, or defending themselves.   Their electric shocks can be deadly to adult humans, hence their deadly reputations.

The electric eel has an elongated, round body that is usually dark grey or brown on the back and yellow or orange on the belly.   They typically growing to about 6 feet in length, and weigh approximately 44 lbs., making it the largest species of the Gymnotiformes. These fish have no scales, but rather a more smooth texture. Their mouth is squared at the end of the snout.   They also have a well-developed sense of hearing but poor eye sight.   Additionally, these fish are air breathers…they will rise to the surface every 10 minutes or so to take in air before returning to the bottom.

When hunting, these eels send out a low voltage current to scan it\’s surrounding for prey.   Once prey is found, it then send out a higher voltage current to stun the prey.   The electric eel does not have maxilla teeth, preventing them from grasping onto it\’s prey so it does not escape.   The eel creates a suction with it\’s mouth and eats the stationary prey.   Usually, they feed on smaller fish or invertebrates.



Information courtesy of wikipedia.org/wiki/electric_eel, nationalgeographic.com, animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu

Photo courtesy of contentfy.com