Creatures of the Amazon
The Pirahna

By Mike Collis

Red Pirahna

Probably the most well known fish in the World. Stories abound about these voracious, flesh eating predators. It is probably not well known that some types of Pirahna do not eat meat at all but eat fruit like the Gamitana which can grow up to 100 lbs or more. It is also thought that all Pirahnas hunt in shoals, not true, the much bigger Black Pirahna is a lone hunter that lies in wait for its prey and ambushes it. I have caught Black Pirahnas up to 5 lbs but they grow much bigger, up to 12 lbs. When you land a Black Pirahna the first thing you do is completely disable its jaws. If a Black Pirahna were to bite you, you can lose a big part of your body. The mouth is big, the jaws are immensely strong and it is no myth that their teeth are razor sharp.

In this article we are focusing on the more famous pirahnas, the red and white pirahnas found throughout tropical South America. Both these fish grow up to about 8 inches long and usually weigh no more than 3 lbs. They always hang around in massive shoals spending most of their time hunting, and they have huge appetites. Their main habitat is in rivers but sometimes after flooding end up in land locked lakes. Their modus operandi is for the shoal to quickly attack a shoal of their target fish, scattering them in all directions. They tend to chase after injured or older fish which are easier to catch. They isolate them, overpower them and take big chunks out of them until they die. Smaller fish are consumed whole. Pirahnas have a very good sense of smell and they are expert in detecting blood in the water even from long distances.
Attacks on humans are very, very rare and usually its because the victim was injured, bleeding or giving off distress vibrations when the Pirahnas attacked. Like most predators pirahnas can detect the distress signals given off by injured prey. Pirahnas are not endangered because they are not on the target list of fisherman who find them too boney.
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