Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Nov 19, 2015 in TellMeWhy |

What Does an Electric Eel Do with Its Electricity?

What Does an Electric Eel Do with Its Electricity?

An electric eel uses its electricity to stun or kill the food it eats as well as a weapon to protect itself from enemies. The electric shock is generated from thousands of tiny battery-like cells called electrocytes inside the fish’s body.

Small animals, such as fish and frogs, are paralyzed by the powerful shock and can’t get away from the hungry eel. Special insulation in the eel’s body protects it from its own electricity.

One kind of electric eel that lives in the rivers of South America makes electricity strong enough to light a neon sign and strong enough to knock out a horse. A 20 foot long eel can produce enough electricity to power 12 light bulbs.

They live in the murky streams and ponds of the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, feeding mainly on fish, but also amphibians and even birds and small mammals.

As air-breathers, they must come to the surface frequently. They also have poor eyesight, but can emit a low-level charge, less than 10 volts, which they use like radar to navigate and locate prey.

Electric eels can reach huge proportions, exceeding 8 feet (2.5 meters) in length and 44 pounds (20 kilograms) in weight. They have long, cylindrical bodies and flattened heads and are generally dark green or grayish on top with yellowish coloring underneath.

Content for this question contributed by Greg Scherle, resident of Allison Park, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA