Red-bellied Piranha

Serrasalmus nattereri

Piranhas are known for their supposed ability to devour big animals -- and even people -- in a short time. However, there is no recorded event of death of a person because of these fish. On the contrary, it is usually people who fish piranha and eat them, because their meat is considered tasty. Piranhas usually eat smaller fish, and often simply bite on the scales or fins. Under certain conditions, however, especially when they are trapped in a drying lake, they will attack any other animal that wanders into the waters. Only four or five of the about 20 species of piranhas are considered dangerous.

Piranhas inhabit freshwater areas of South America, where the carnivorous species associate in large schools that are attracted to blood and motion in the water. Some Indian tribes of South America have traditionally used piranha teeth as cutting instruments.

This picture was taken in Indianapolis zoo, in August 2000.

Genus Serrasalmus
Family Characidae
Order Characiformes
Subclass Actinopterygii
Class Osteichthyes
Subphylum Vertebrata
Phylum Chordata
Kingdom Animalia
Life on Earth