If most of the things you know about electric eels are limited to what you have seen from the movies or cartoons, then you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, most people have so many misconceptions about this majestic sea creature. You may think those movies have overplayed the abilities of this animal, but if there’s one thing those movies and cartoons have taught, they’re right to say we should avoid them. Here are more interesting, if not shocking (pun intended) facts about electric eels that you should know.
They Aren’t Really Eels
Sound surprised? Despite their eel-like appearance the name is actually a misleading common name, used primarily to describe the electric eel. They’re not even closely related to real eels which are the Anguilloformes. They’re actually fish, particularly a knife fish, belonging to order Gymnotiformes, which are rather related to catfish and carps.
They Lay Their Eggs in Nests of Saliva
Male and female electric eels have quite an odd, if not gross way to lay eggs; the males will use its saliva and spit to form a nest, the females will then lay thousands of eggs on the nest, they will then both stick around to guard their nest and protect their offspring until their young reach around 5 inches long. The well-guarded nest will house and hatch about 1,200 baby eels.
They Use Electric As Radar
By now, you may already know their capability to discharge electricity from their special organs called “electrocytes” to hunt their prey and ward off predators. However, that’s not the only purpose of their electric capabilities. Since they usually live in muddy waters, they don’t have good eyesight. They actually use electricity like a radar system; they discharge small pulses and use their senses to scan their environment and find potential preys.
They Can Concentrate Their Shocking Powers
Contrary to what most people think, electric eels don’t always discharge electricity in all directions, as they can also concentrate their electric powers to their target by curling up. They often use this clever strategy to handle awkward and fast-moving preys. They bite down on their prey, curl around and hold their prey with their tail before discharging electricity. It’s their best way of concentrating their electric charge to seriously hurt, incapacitate or even kill their prey.
They Can Leap Out of the Water
For decades, there have been stories of electric eels jumping off the river, electrocuting people passing by, even those riding their horses. This has never been scientifically proven, until just recently, when scientists recorded this incredible phenomenon on camera.
Electric eels are actually strong and powerful enough to jump off the water, cling to their prey outside the water and discharge a powerful charge to electrocute their target. They can even bend their neck to keep in contact with their target.
They Can Get Seriously Big
If the scary snake-like appearance and electric capability are not enough to scare you, then it might help you to know electric eels are gigantic animals. They can reach up to 8 feet long in the wild; imagine the vicious power of that eel.