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Electric Eels

Biology | 8-14 yrs | Interactive, Learning Pod

Electric Eels Facts

Electric eels are truly electric. Yes! They are able to produce an electric charge which they use to hunt as well as scare off predators. It is the only species in the genus Electrophorus, or able to produce electricity. Even though its name suggests it is an eel, it is not. It is a knifefish. While there are other fish that can produce electric fields for navigation and communication, the electric eel is the only one that can use it for defense and attack.

The electric eel has three pairs of organs in its abdomen: the main organ, the Hunter’s organ, and the Sach’s organ. Together, they make up 4/5ths of the body and allow the eel to generate both high and low voltage electric charges. They produce a low voltage shock when hunting to stun their prey. The high voltage discharge of an electric eel can go up to 600V, enough to stun almost any animal. Some have even been seen to produce this charge continuously for over an hour.

Electric eels live in the Amazon river. They inhabit the river flood-plains, and live at the muddy bottoms of stagnant rivers. They are not predatory towards human beings and would rather swim away than attack them with a charge of electricity. Because of their ability to harm, they cannot live around others of their kind and therefore make troublesome pets.

There are other types of fish that use electricity to function. Research what the Electric Catfish from Africa and the Electric ray have in common.

Head on to Biology for Kids for more such interesting biology videos and interactive articles.