Their threat to humans is largely exaggerated. Piranha grow to 33 centimetres and has powerful jaws with top and bottom razor-sharp pointed interlocking teeth – giving them the ability to tear and rip flesh.

Victims are usually animals smaller than themselves such as insects, aquatic invertebrates and other fish. Attacks on animals as large as a horse have been witnessed. These freshwater South American fish, are fearful of humans and like most animals, tend to avoid us. There are no confirmed reports of piranhas killing a human. Like zombies, they normally congregate in large groups for both protection and hunting.

It is common for locals to swim amongst piranhas. Generally, piranhas are no more dangerous than other fish, however, when other food sources are scarce, piranhas have been known to attack and eat just about anything.  Piranhas are themselves a delicious and popular food – bring your fishing rod, but don’t fall in.


That all being said… groups of piranhas can be very dangerous. They can quickly devour just about anything. If you swim in the Amazon – beware!

Avoid an Attack

Consider the following:

  • Know where piranhas live – Piranhas are freshwater fish and live only in South America – although occasionally a stray pet piranha turns up in a Canadian river,
  • Avoid the dry season – They rarely attack a larger animal unless they are starving. Food supplies are at their lowest during the dry season – avoid entering piranha waters during these times. When water levels are high, piranhas pose almost no danger to humans,
  • Avoid ponds – Hunger piranha becomes trapped in ponds.  Animals that stumble into these ponds become piranha food, 
  • Paddle at Night – They hunt during the day and sleep at night,
  • No Open wounds – Stay out of the water if you have an open or bleeding wound. Piranhas sense blood in the water and are more likely to attack,
  • Stay calm – They attack motion – minimize your movement and swim or walk with smooth and quiet motions, 
  • Create a diversion – Create a diversion by releasing an animal carcass or raw meat downstream.

If Attacked

Consider the following:

  • Swim to shore ASAP,
  • Treat wounds,
  • Take inventory of “your parts” and hope for the best!


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