Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Eels resemble a serpentine-like appearance with their elongated bodies and low fins. They can survive and live in both fresh and salt water, though all types of eels breeds in salt water. Many eel species are consumed by humans, and they’re common delicacies in many Asian and European countries. Fresh water eels such as unagi and marine eels like anago and conger eels are common in Japanese cuisine, and they can be pretty expensive. Eels are also quite popular in China, and they’re prepared in many different ways. They’re also common in other Asian countries like Korea, Hong Kong, and Philippines. They’re also treated as specially prized cuisines in many European countries such as Italy and England.
Electric Eels are NOT Actually Eels
Electric eels on the other hand, are NOT eels. Despite their snakelike appearance, they belong to scientific classification of carps and catfishes. They’re actually air breathers, which mean they must come to the surface frequently to breathe. This is because unlike most fishes however, they don’t have sufficient gill structure to generate oxygen.
Electric eel is a type of a knifefish or “gymnotiform”, which refers to a group of teleost bony fishes. Electric eels are best known for their ability to emit massive electrical charge, which they often use to stun or even kill their prey. They can discharge up to 600V for over 2ms, which they also use for self-defense and even communicated with other electric eels. Smaller and younger ones can emit up to 100V.
What They Eat in the Wild
These freshwater predators feed on invertebrates, and they usually consume fish and small animals, even rats. Juvenile electric eels feed on invertebrates like shrimps and crabs, while the fish-born hatchlings eat other embryos and eggs from later clutches.
What Eats Them in the Wild
Because of their vicious nature and electric abilities, they don’t really have natural predators in the wild. Very few animals are willing to take them on, as their electric discharge is usually more than enough to ward them off. Those who are brave enough to try will regret it instantly, as a matter of fact; there is a video online that shows how easy an electric eel can kill a preying alligator.
Humans are among the very few creatures in the planet that can hunt and kill electric eels, although, it is quite difficult, as capturing for private collection or for zoos have long been proven to be very dangerous. The only practical option is to tire them out through goading and have them continually discharge electricity (for more than an hour), exhausting their electric organs to be completely discharged for easy capture.
Can You Eat Electric Eel?
Technically, yes. However, they are rarely a source of food for humans for practical reasons. For one, they are very dangerous to catch. And second, as said earlier, they belong to the family of bony fishes, which means they have very little meat suitable for human consumption. They’re however, substantial subjects for research, which is the primary reason why humans capture them from the wild.