Electric Eel Facts and Information

Electrophorus electricus

Introduction to Electric Eel

The Electric Eel is a fascinating creature, and one that allows electric currents to be able to be generated. They may look like a snake, but they aren’t even a real eel. They are closely related to the Catfish. It can offer very powerful electric shocks. They don’t have any scales and that is one difference that sets them apart from many other forms of aquatic life.

Many people have tried to keep the Electric Eel as pets due to the exotic nature of them. However, they can be very hard to care for. They need water to be a certain temperature and life food to consume. They also tend to get their tanks dirty fast and that makes it unsightly and smelly.

Superclass Osteichthyes
Class Actinopterygii
Order Gymnotiformes
Family Gymnotidae
Genus Electrophorus
Conservation status Least Concern

Electric Eel Description

The body of the Electric Eel is very long and round. They can grow to a size of about 44 pounds and 8 feet in length. They are able to move around with ease through the water. They blend in very well with their surroundings due to the dark brown, black, and olive green coloring of the body. They have either yellow or orange that is on the belly. The eyes are small and they don’t have very good vision. They do have a great sense of smell that they rely upon.

Electric Eel Distribution

The Electric Eel is found in many bodies of water around South America. They are mainly found living along the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers. They tend to live close to coastal plains, swamps, and other locations that provide them with food supplies.

Electric Eel Behavior

The powerful electric shocks that the Electric Eel offers can be something for self defense and for hunting. They have three pairs of organs along the abdomen that produce the electric current. They are able to offer two currents – low voltage and high voltage.

They have to go to the surface of the water approximately every 10 minutes to be able to take in oxygen. They are only at the surface for a second though so they are often unseen by human eyes when they engage in such behaviors.

While they tend to live alone, there are locations where large numbers of them are in the same area. That is called a swarm. In places where large prey may cross the rivers, they need numbers of them to be able to create enough shock to have it to consume. They don’t have teeth.

Electric Eel Facts and Information

Electric Eel – Electrophorus electricus

Electric Eel Feeding

When the Electric Eel finds prey, a message is sent to the brain and that causes an electrical charge to be produced. When the prey is touched then it will be enough electricity to kill it. There are some species that have enough current to kill a human if they come into contact with it.

Fish, small mammals, and invertebrates are what they consume. The young instinctively know to care for themselves. If they can’t find enough food they may eat the eggs or other young that hatch after them. They often consume shrimp and crab when they are young.

Electric Eel Reproduction

The ritual of mating is very different for the Electric Eel. The male will create a nest and use saliva to keep it together. The female will enter the nest and lay up to 1,200 eggs there. Then the male will return and fertilize them with sperm. The eggs will be left alone and a large number of them will be consumed as food by other types of predators. Only a small percentage of them will survive to become mature adults. They can live from 10 to 22 years in captivity.



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