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Electrophorus Electricus or Electric Eel

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This electric eel was fished up from the Takutu River which separates Guyana and Brazil to the south of Guyana. Photo: Kelvin Munroe

First Published: 30th of November, 2021 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: August 20, 2023 at 2:19 am

The electric eel is living proof of a fact we all know: that God invented electricity long before humans learned how to generate it. The electric eel is a natural marvel which produces electricity through bodily functions. It can electrocute other animals, but it is never affected by the electrical shocks it delivers.

The electric eel can grow to a length of 8 feet and weigh up to 44 lbs. Sporting about 6000 cells that store electrical power like tiny batteries, the electric eel can discharge up to 600 volts at once. The electric eel uses its electrical powers to stun preys and ward off predators.

The electric eel cannot breathe underwater and must rise to the surface frequently to breathe. It feeds mainly on fishes, but also eats amphibians, birds, and small mammals. Having poor eyesight, the electric eel often emits a low-level charge, less than 10 volts, a sort of radar that helps it navigate and locate prey.

For humans, coming in contact with an electric eel can be a very unpleasant experience, and this has been described as similar to coming in contact with an electric fence. However, it is very unlikely that a human being might be killed by the shock of an electric eel. Nevertheless, people have been reported to have drowned after being stunned by the voltage of the electric eel in the water. Multiple shocks have also been known to cause respiratory or heart failure.

The electric eel is native to the murky streams and ponds of the Amazon and Orinoco Basins of South America. It can be found in the Takutu River which separates Guyana from Brazil as well as many other rivers of the Rupununi Savannahs of Guyana.

  • COMMON NAME: Electric Eel
  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Electrophorus electricus
  • TYPE: Fish
  • DIET: Carnivore
  • GROUP NAME: Swarm
  • AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: 15 years
  • SIZE: 6 to 8 feet
  • WEIGHT: 44 pounds

So, what do you know about the electric eel? Tell us in the comments section below.

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