Found in the river basins and the muddy bed of freshwater bodies of South America, the electric eels are a subject of research worldwide. The characteristics of this fish can amaze the children and they might want to dig deeper to know more.
We have tried to cover the major part of those electric eel facts for kids in this article. We hope that you find it useful and worth reading.
11 Most Interesting & Fun Facts about Electric Eels for Kids
The fact that the electric eels are not eels and that there are three kinds of electric eels found depending on the amount of electricity they produce is interesting right? Let us look at some more information about this interesting creature.
1. Electric eels do generate electricity
The Electric eels do justify their names by producing a 600 volts electric shock. It is enough to kill humans and other animals. They do this to keep the predators away.
The electric discharge that they release have an effect on their surrounding areas and any animal, fish or human within its range can be affected.
They can generate electric shock in still water. The pair of organs through which this fish produces electricity are present in their abdomen.
2. Electric eels breathe air
Electric eels, like humans and animals that stay outside the water bodies, breathe oxygen through the air. It needs to come out of the water every 10 minutes or so to take in air and then it goes back under the water.
They have lungs just behind their toothless mouth in their bodies. Due to their complex circulatory system and absence of gills unlike other fishes, they are unable to breathe oxygen from the water.
3. It is not an actual eel
Electric eels are not eels despite being named so. They are knife fishes. They are more closely related to the catfish family. They are even smaller in size than the average eel fish size.
The adult electric eel can grow up to be 8 feet long. Their body is cylindrical in shape and also elongated. They weigh around 44 pounds.
4. Habitat of the electric eels
The electric eels are found in South America. They are freshwater fishes that are mainly found in Amazon and Orinoco river basins. They prefer to live in areas such as swamps, coastal plains, floodplains, and creeks.
They like to live on muddy beds in the calm waters. They also spend most of their time hunting in the static arms of rivers.
5. The electric eels are toothless
Electric eels do not have teeth. They swallow their prey as a whole. They form a C-shape around the animals they want to hunt and release electric pulses that are strong enough to make them unconscious.
The longer the electric eels are in length, the more powerful their electric shock is. Their heads contain a positive charge and their tails are a negative one.
6. Diet of the electric eels
The electric eels are carnivores. They feed mainly on invertebrates like crabs and shrimps. They are also known for eating other fishes, birds, small mammals, and amphibians.
They can also eat fruits that fall into the water where they are residing. The young eels are known for eating the unhatched eggs of their own kind.
7. They are different from the knife fishes
We know that the electric eels, even though named eels are not eels but knife fishes. They are different in a way from the common knife fishes. Most of the knife fishes are closer in look to normal fishes. Only the electric eels look like an eel.
Also, all the knife fishes are known for generating electricity but they do this to see their surroundings. Whereas the electric eels produce electricity to protect themselves, hunt prey, or kill the predator.
8. It is possible to catch them
It is difficult to catch the electric eels, and can only be done by the experts in the field. They can be caught only after their organs, which are responsible for discharging electricity, are completely discharged.
They are difficult to keep in captivity at home. They are generally kept in zoos and aquaria. Miguel Wattson, an electric eel in the Tennessee Aquarium in the United States uses its discharges to tweet from its account.
9. They are visually impaired
It is a shocking fact to know that a fish that can produce so much electricity can be blind. Although not completely blind, they have highly impaired eyesight. They can not catch their prey depending on their eyesight.
They depend on the electric signals that they produce to navigate and locate their food. They also attack their prey with the help of their electricity discharge.
10. Death caused by electric eels
Although, there are very rare cases of electric eels attacking humans it is possible. The electric eels can kill large animals and fish attacking them. The same can happen to a human.
You may survive a single jolt but multiple jolts by several electric eels present can eventually drown and kill you even in shallow water. The jolts cause heart attacks and breathing difficulties in humans.
11. Electric eels are prehistoric animals
It has been found in researches worldwide by scientists that electric eels have not changed much since prehistoric times. They have not moved forward on the evolution scale.
They have been the same for the last two million years. Their unique abilities to generate electricity have served them well in surviving in these two million years or so.
Different Types of Electric Eels
There are three types of eels, all found in the rivers of South America. They differ based on the amount of electricity they can produce. Their names are as follows:
- Electrophorus electricus
- Electrophorus Voltai
- Electrophorus Varii
More Stuff you’ll Love to Read:
They have specialized organs that produce electric pulses up to 400 times in a second. That is how they create electricity.
They can light up a 40 watt DC light bulb with one big jolt. They produce up to 10 – 850 volts. And can light up to 12 such 40-watt bulbs but they can not sustain it.
They can produce enough electricity to electrocute a shark. This often keeps the sharks and other predators at bay.
Electric Eel goes by the scientific name of Electrophorus electricus.
It is a freshwater fish which is found in South America.
They are carnivores eating fishes, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.
They do not possess teeth. They swallow their food directly.
They are found in freshwater bodies in South America.
Eels breathe air by coming to the surface occasionally. They have lungs for inhaling oxygen from the air.
They produce 600 volts of electricity which is enough to kill or incapacitate a human for a lifetime.
Electric eels can get up to 8 feet long.
Yes, you can eat an electric eel but they are not a very good source of food.
They are known to live up to 15 years in the wild whereas they can survive up to 22 years in captivity.
It is easy to catch an electric eel after it loses its electric charge by continuously discharging in a short period.
The adult electric eels get 8 feet long.
Electrophorus Voltai is the most powerful electric eel among the three species.
They do have predators. Animals such as crocodiles and caimans, fishes like piranhas, and other large mammals from outside the water hunt on these eels.
These were some amazing electric eel facts for kids. We hope that you gained some knowledge about this interesting knifefish and can now differentiate them from the other categories of fishes and eels.