The Electric Eel: Underwater Stun Gun

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Although they resemble snakes, electric eels are actually fish. They have the ability to generate an electrical charge of up to 600 volts, making these underwater stun guns powerful freshwater predators.

About six thousand specialized organs line the body of the eight-foot long electric eel, storing power like a small battery. These cells generate the electrical discharge required to paralyze prey (like small fish and amphibians) and thwart predators.

Mature electric eels are longer than their younger counterparts, giving them the ability to generate more electricity and eat larger prey. These unique fish are able to generate both low and high-voltage electricity. Adults can create enough power to flip a horse off its feet and cause respiratory or heart failure in humans.

But this particular fish doesn’t use electricity only for predation and protection. Because electric eels have poor eyesight, their powerful field helps them sense their surroundings and navigate the murky waters.

Electric eels are commonly found in the Amazon River basin. They prefer dark, shaded, freshwater, where their greenish-black scaleless body is camouflaged. Every few minutes, the nocturnal electric eel surfaces to gulp air. They can live up to fifteen years and weigh over forty pounds in the wild.

Check out more information on electric eels here.