Saturday, May 14, 2005

Woman tried to clean piranha tank

A Russian woman had her fingers badly bitten when she tried to clean her son's fish tank, not realising it was full of piranhas.

The woman, from Saransk, told doctors she thought they were just well fed goldfishand wanted to do her son a favour.

But as she put her hands in to catch the fish they launched a frenzied attack on her hand, clamping onto her fingers and not letting go.

She only managed to get the fish off her hand by banging them against the side of the fish tank, and then called an ambulance to take her to hospital.

Doctors who treated her said she had been lucky not to lose her hand in the attackand that she needed extensive surgery.

The woman lost most of the flesh from two fingers in the attack, local media reported.
A neighbour said: "She had no idea the pet fish in the tank were predators."


Scientific Name. Pygocentrus nattereri. The body shape of almost all piranhas is high-backed , more or less stocky , and very narrow. The piranha's shape indicates that they live in slow-flowing and stagnant waters . The head is large, with a steep profile. The keel formed by enlarged scales and more or less extending along the midline of the belly is toothed like a saw. It is to this "SAW" that the whole piranha family, Serrasalmidae (Saw Salmon), owes its name.
The largest piranha grows to be about 2 feet long. Most other piranhas are a little over or a little under 1 foot long. There are many species of smaller piranhas whose average size is between 8 and 12 inches.

The Natural Range Of The Piranha includes:
1.The Orinoco Range
2.The Guyana Range
3.The Amazon Range
4.The Rio Sao Francisco Range
5.The Rio Paraguay and Rio Parana Range
Piranhas, in the wild, can be found only in South America. They are freshwater tropical fish. Piranhas live in the so-called white water rivers in the wild. Piranhas never live in mountain streams or lakes.

The round scales of the piranhas are small and set in the skin like the tiles on a roof, arranged in horizontal and vertical rows. They form an effective barrier against infection and foreign bodies. Above the scales lies a layer of skin that secretes mucus, which gives the fish its slimy texture. Attacks and scratches constantly result in the loss of scales. This loss is harmless since the scale regenerate quickly. Piranhas do not actually produce color. Rather, the color is created by many pigment-containing cells - the chromatophores - in the skin in which the scales are embedded. If numerous cells with red pigment lie close together, the area concerned will look red.

Every piranha has both paired and unpaired fins. Paired fins include the pectoral fins, which are inserted behind the gills, and the small ventral fins, attached on the abdomen, behind the pectorals. The unpaired (vertical) fins consist of the long-lobed anal fin that lies between the anus and the caudal peduncle; the caudal (or tail) fin, which has only a shallow notch; the dorsal fin; and the well-developed adipose fin behind it.

Most people outside South America first learned about piranhas in 1914 from Theodore Roosevelt, a former president of the United States. When he came back from his Amazon travels, he told terrifying stories about the fish. One story he told was about a soldier in Brazil who fell off his horse into the river and was eaten so completely that only his bones were left! It is probably true that the travelers found the soldier's skeleton, but it is most likely that he drowned and was later eaten by the many aquatic animals, including piranhas, that eat dead flesh.

The most famous part of a piranha's body is its teeth. Their teeth are sharped like triangles. The lower jaw of a piranha sticks out farther than its upper jaw. This makes the piranha's teeth fit together like a trap. When a piranha bites something, it easily tears it into tiny pieces. The lower jaw is big and immensely powerful. Hidden behind the lips there is alarge, extremely pointed and razorblade-sharp set of teeth. Because of their razor powerful teeth they cause serious injuries or death even to large warm-blooded animals.

Piranhas eat small fish, shrimp, tiny crustaceans, insects, the flesh of dead animals, and even fruit, seeds, and pieces of plants. Some piranhas prefer a diet of fins or scales from other fish. A few piranhas eat mostly vegetables.

When piranhas eat, they use their teeth only to cut and bite, they never chew their food. Instead of chewing, they swallow their food whole. By doing this, they can eat very, very quickly. With so many piranhas eating during a feeding frenzy, the food disappears quickly. The faster a piranha can eat, the more food it gets!

Thanks to the position and shape of the eyes, piranhas, like most fishes, have a very wide field of view. To a limited extent they are able to percieve movements that go on behind them. This means that the fish become aware of possible danger at an early stage and thus have an increased chance of escaping.

Little is known about when piranhas become sexually mature. Breeding occurs during one of two spawns - one before the rainy season in April/May and possibly a second one in late summer. Prior to spawning the general aggressiveness of the piranhas increases considerably, and members of the same species are bitten more frequently.

Ruthless Killers

From the moment tiny baby piranhas hatch from their microscopic eggs, they come into the world armed and dangerous. Baby piranha will feast on tiny crustaceans, fruits, seeds, and aquatic plants. Once they reach about 1.5 inches in length they begin feeding on the fins and flesh of other fish that wander too closely. As they grow larger they begin to venture out in groups (schools) of about 20 fish where they use a variety of hunting strategies to kill and eat their prey. Heck, they don't kill their prey first, they just start eating the victim alive - that's what makes them so ferocious. Adult piranha have been known to eat their own babies. Talk about brutal! When a school of piranha are in a feeding frenzy the water appears to boil and churn red with blood. They attack with such ferocity that they strip an animal of its flesh within a matter of minutes, even taking bites out of each other in the process. Adult piranha will eat just about anything - other fish, sick and weakened cattle, even parts of people. Sickly cattle that have stooped their heads down to drink from the river have been grabbed by the mouth and nose and pulled into the water, completely devoured minutes later. As wicked as it all sounds, piranha have a useful function in the Amazonian jungles just like any other predators in the wild. They are part of the checks and balances Mother Nature employs to eliminate the weak and sick so only the strong survive.

I don't know about you, but it is pretty creepy to think that people actually buy these things and want to keep them in their homes..........


At Mon May 16, 11:06:00 AM EDT, Blogger Zetirix said...

I don't see the understanding of wanting to keep exotic animals... I'm a cat person, you never hear of a cat eating someone's hand do you? Leave the snakes, ferrits, birds, and fish where they belong... at least that's how I feel.

- Z


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