Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Electric Eel

(Image Source)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Actinopterygii
Order : Gymnotiformes
Family : Gymnotidae
Genus : Electrophorus
Species : electricus

Length : Up to 6-8ft (2-2.5m)
Weight : 40lbs (20kg)

IUCN Status : Least Concern

Did you know that despite the name, Electric Eels are more closely related to Catfish then they are to actual Eels? These curious creatures are actually members of an Order known as "Knifefishes" and they are found in the freshwater basins of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers.

Electric Eels are major predators within their watery domains. Unsurprisingly, this is due to the large amount of electricity that they can release to stun their prey. Their bodies are home to about 6,000 specialized cells known as electrocytes. They store up power than can be discharged quickly at a strength of about 600 volts. While swimming around, Electric Eels emit much lower, 10 volt shocks that help them to navigate and hunt in the murky water. They feed off of fish, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals. Due to their electric nature, they have very few predators of their own.

So are Electric Eels dangerous to humans? There have been some fatalities, but they are not at all common. Repeated shocks can induce heart attacks, while other shocks have lead to paralysis and drowning.

Electric Eels also have the interesting ability to breathe air outside of water. Almost 80% of their oxygen comes from gulping up air at the surface. The rivers that they live in are murky and have low oxygen levels, and this breathing method allows them to survive at their large sizes.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

    Electric Salamanders

    ReplyDelete
  2. thank you

    ReplyDelete

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