I’m a big fan of the show “River Monsters,” and the enormous monsters lurking beneath even our fresh water sources are unbelievable.
But if there’s such a thing as a classic monster in the fish world, the piranha takes the cake. With enormous, razor-sharp teeth and traveling in schools that can devour carcasses in seconds, piranhas have earned their ghastly reputation.
Piranhas live in South American rivers and are actually omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals.
They can be anywhere between five and ten inches long, and their rows of triangular sharp teeth lock tightly together for tearing flesh quickly. They have one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom.
Piranhas travel in schools, which they use for protection from predators like dolphins and caimans. This also explains the terrifying feeding frenzy that happens when food enters the water.
Piranha attacks on people do happen regularly, typically in dry seasons when water is low and food is scarce. Splashing can attract them, so children are often victims. People who are bitten rarely die, but it has happened.
Red-bellied piranhas are legendary for their ability to devour whole cattle carcasses in seconds.
It’s no wonder they’re the subject of pop culture fear-fests, including James Bond’s “You Only Live Twice” and the horrifying “Piranha” movie series.