In our last article on piranha facts, we told you how the piranhas got their fame of human killers but we also told you how they are not at all what they are portrayed to be. In this instalment of piranha facts, we will cover some of the most interesting and little known facts about these unfortunate fish who have been victims of Hollywood’s imagination. So, let us being with our list of 20 little known piranha facts. You ready?
Little Known Piranha Facts: 1-10
1. Believe it or not, piranhas do feast on mammals. Not the big ones though. They do eat up small mammals. You may often come across video footages of piranhas killing capybaras. However, you need to know that just as in case with humans, piranhas will feast on mammals on if they are already dead or are dying.
2. Piranhas are usually known for eating other fish, insects, carrion, crustaceans, etc. They even feed on plant parts and seeds, making them omnivores. There are some piranhas that are purely veggies and they don’t even think of meat. One such species is Tometes camunani found in Para, Brazil’s Amazonian rapids of Trombetas basin. This species lives on riverweed.
3. There is another species known as Catoprion mento or simply known as wimple piranhas that are known for feasting on fish scales. Why so? That’s because the scales have a layer of protein mucus, which is very nutritious.
4. Here is one of the most surprising piranha facts – they can become cannibals depending on the scarcity of the food resources. They might just bite off a piece of flesh from the bodies of their brothers and sisters, either alive or dead if the food sources become scarce.
5. Scientists wondered exactly how the piranhas attacked their prey, especially other fish. In order to find out a laboratory test was conducted in 1972 where a goldfish was put among the carnivores. It turned out the red-bellied piranhas attacked the tail and eyes of the goldfish. Eventually, the scientists came to a conclusion that by taking the tail-and-eye attack strategy, piranhas effectively immobilize their prey and then feast!
6. For some odd reason, red-bellied piranhas have been a subject of greater number of studies than other species. One such research led the scientists to a conclusion that the red-bellied piranhas are known for making bark-like sounds. Belgian scientists investigated further and found that they actually make 3 different types of sounds.
7. The first type of sound is the bark-like sound. These are actually quick calls that are meant for warning other fish that messing with them will not give good end results.
8. The second type of sounds are thud sounds or low grunts which are made when they piranhas fight or circle other fish. These sounds are more like direct threats.
9. The final sound comes from gnashing of teeth when the piranhas actually start chasing other fish. This is like, ‘I will kill you now’ – super angry, you know!
10. The first two types of vocalizations are outputs of an organ that contains gas. This organ, known as the swimbladder, is responsible for keeping the piranhas afloat. The muscles of the organ are contracted and relaxed for emitting sounds of different frequencies.