do electric eels actually shock you
December 6, 2020
Wow, that was so cool! However, the eels can cause heart failure or respiratory failure from multiple shocks or in persons with underlying heart disease. Electric eels have been shown to curl their bodies around larger or more elusive prey. As a result, you could reach into the water behind the eel and not feel much of anything. We don't currently have a Wonder about that. Electric eels have electrogenic cells that they use to stun prey, defend against predators and even communicate with other electric eels. Be the first to know! That's why we WONDER so much! SCIENCE — Life Science. I found today's wonder extremely interesting. Whether the shock of an electric eel is fatal also may depend on the size of the eel, which, by the way, isn't actually an eel at all. :), Hi, Wallace! Their coloration is dark gray-brown on the back and yellow or orange on the belly. However, if an eel is injured, the wound can make the eel susceptible to electricity. Each electrocyte only generates 0.15 volts, but in concert, the cells can produce a shock up to 1 ampere of electrical current and 860 watts for two milliseconds. If you were pushing more than one amp through the water (the amount of current an electric eel produces), you could probably kill an electric eel. To my knowledge, there are no specific studies on why eels can shock other animals without shocking themselves but one possible explanation could be … Electric eels can vary the intensity of their shocks, using lower voltages for hunting and higher voltages for self-defense. Unfortunately, electric eels are not even eels; they are actually knifefish. Interested in sharing Wonderopolis® every day? Human deaths from electrocution are rare, unless the victim has a heart condition. These electric fish deliver enough electricity to stun an adult human but are not fatal. ), the outside limit or top layer of something, happening or arising or located within some limits or especially surface, a container consisting of one or more cells, in which chemical energy is converted into electricity and used as a source of power, protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost, the rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit; expressed in volts, take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological process, knock unconscious or into a semi-conscious state, an animal that is hunted and killed by another for food, differ in size, amount, degree, or nature from something else of the same general class. The name for fish-eating species is picivorous. Where Does the Sand on Beaches Come From? (And maybe how they work. We hope you liked this Wonder! The electric eel has a slender, snake-like body and flattened head. :), Hi, WONDER friend! Electric eels are more closely related to catfish than true eels. This wonder was extremely interesting! You see, when electric eels are in the water, their shock is not very effective against land-based predators. I would like some more electric eel info if anyone has any. The Short Answer: The cells of all living things generate electrical charges. I thought that video was very cool! Electric eels need at least a 200-gallon tank and usually must be kept by themselves since they will attack other fish. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. With a strong enough shock to cause heart failure after repeated jolts, it wouldn't be such a good idea to approach this living lightning rod. In the story, there is a scene where the doctor needs to revive the creature after successfully building it with a jolt of electricity. In fact, it would be eel … Ironically, electric eels are not eels at all but they are actually knifefishes. They're a specific kind of knifefish that lives mainly in bodies of fresh water in South America, such as the Amazon River. But electric eels are real. True eels cannot produce electric shocks like electric eels can. Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis today and for letting us know you learned something new from this Wonder of the Day! We think it's GREAT to share in the learning! Unless you live in South America, the answer is… no! When electric eels emit electricity, their shock dissipates around them, and it loses its damaging potential. Tell the others three reasons why their animals aren't as scary. :), Hey, Westley! Thanks for letting us know you liked this Wonder! Thanks for your patience. An adult may weigh 20 kilograms (44 pounds), with males being much smaller than females. We are always interested in learning more about the world around us (like about electric eels, for instance). So to see them doing this—you know at first I thought well I've got a net. Have FUN WONDERing! An electric eel can not only kill other electric eels with its electricity. Hey Wonderopolis! Electric eels populate the streams, rivers and ponds of South America and can grow as long as 8 feet (2.5 meters) and as heavy as 44 pounds … :-), Hi, Dexter! Despite the electric eel's fame, we still don't know really basic things about it, like what it eats. What's your favorite sea creature? Thanks for commenting, too! And my parents in law and they trapped some eels and they even got to hold them, how is that? They can and do kill people. I mean electric eels just in my experience do not jump out of the water. It looks like an eel, and moves like an eel, but it’s not….nor is it a duck. :), Thanks for joining the discussion! The critters are native to South American rivers, but they don’t spend all their time underwater. It seems probable that the electric eels more powerful shocking ability evolved from organs originally related to electrical sensing. They … I love it!!! They frequently shock themselves. Juvenile fish eat small invertebrates, including crabs and shrimp. And their fame is no surprise! It’s not surprising since it’s very rare for an animal to generate electricity which makes electric eels stand out from other eels. A standard car battery generates 12 volts, so an electric eel has 50 times the shocking power of a car batt… I will add a comment too! You are a GREAT Wonder Friend for sharing Wonderopolis with Anna B! The shocks are not generally capable of killing a healthy human. An article published in Nature Communications shows that three species of electric eel exist, not just one as previously described, and that one of them produces an electric shock up to 860 volts. :), Hello, Wallace! Here's what you need to know. People mistake them for eels … Oh my gosh what a great WONDER and I am so impressed with the new facts that I learned. So to see them doing this—you know at first I thought well I've got a net. Together, the organs make up four-fifths of an eel's body, allowing it to deliver low voltage or high voltage or use electricity for electrolocation. Hello again! That amazed me I never knew they were really electric, I always thought they were just called an electric eel. The eel jumped out of the water and into the air to deliver its shock. We encourage you to keep researching eels at your library and online. ANSWER: Electric eels (Electrophorus electricus) are perhaps the most famous of eels, despite not actually being eels (they’re more closely related to catfish.) Electric eels – actually a type of knifefish, not true eels – are notorious for being able to produce a hefty electric shock of up to around 600V. More often, deaths from electric eels shocks occur when the jolt knocks a person in the water and they drown. Electric eels do not like this. Electric eels do not like this. Tell everybody about Wonderopolis and its wonders. Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis! Eel bodies are insulated, so they don't normally shock themselves. Bye. We hope you enjoyed the Wonder, even though you don't care for eels. But to get to the meat of electric eels – yes, they do produce electricity. If you waste deep in murky water and up swims an electric eel, you’re in deep trouble. Are you misunderstood? The electric eel is not actually an eel but in fact a kind of fish, called a knifefish, and are closely related to carp and catfish. Bottom line: You can’t collect electric eels without suffering shocks, which de Santana compares to getting hit with a Taser. We get an Electric eel that has a powerful shock and it ends up shocking us! Similar to other eel shaped fish, the electric eel lacks pelvic fins. They electrocute other nearby electric eels, not in a fight but by accident. We hope you were electrified by today's Wonder of the Day! With a strong enough shock to cause heart failure after repeated jolts, it wouldn't be such a good idea to approach this living lightning rod. Do you know the story of a mad doctor who created a monster from assembling dead corpses? Electric eels have to be very careful in the way they bend their bodies when the charge up! We love your enthusiasm for WONDERing! You see, Miguel is an electric eel who resides at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. Collecting these animals from the wild, as de Santana did, is not easy. They are certainly electric. Unlike many fish, electric eels breathe air. The name for fish-eating species is picivorous. Human deaths from electric eels are extremely rare. Electric eels do endanger themselves by generating electricity. The organs are made up of special cells called "electrocytes." :), Thanks for sharing all the cool things you learned about electric eels and also for wishing us a WONDERful day, Audrey! :-), Hi again to you too, Anna B! Like many other members of this order, electric eels use electricity for sensing prey by creating weak electric fields and then sensing distortions in that field. That's an interesting question. You’ve matched all of the definitions correctly. An electric eel needs to rise to the surface and inhale about once every ten minutes. The most important fact to know about electric eels is that, unlike the Moray pictured here, they are not actually eels. Instead they are a kind of fish called "knife-fish.” They are closely related to carp and catfish. Most people don't know much about electric eels, except that they produce electricity. When they mass together, the group of eels is called a swarm. You need to know what to do, and act fast because electric eels pack a powerful punch! 2. I was embarrassed to ask them why they didnt shock them lol There is also a brutal video out there of a black caiman biting onto an electric eel and being shocked to death. 1. I love when friends teach each other about Wonderopolis thanks Meredith!!! When electric eels emit electricity, their shock dissipates around them, and it loses its damaging potential. One of the new eel species is capable of generating a shock of as much as 860 volts, the most powerful electrical discharge ever discovered in any known animal. Electric eels have electrogenic cells that they use to stun prey, defend against predators and even communicate with other electric eels. Unless you live in South America, the answer is… no! Hello Wonderopolis! Such a shock would be deadly for an adult human! Thanks for WONDERing with us and check back soon! :), WOW, your dad is one impressive guy, Wonder Friend L! We're EXCITED you're WONDERing with us! Thanks for all your great questions! The electric eel then delivers a series of shocks that occur at one-millisecond intervals. In an electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), thousands of modified muscle cells in the thick tail are lined up like batteries in a flashlight. Should you be worried about getting shocked by an electric eel the next time you wade in a creek or go for a swim in a lake or river? Also, tell the others which is the least scary of these (and why): electric elephants, electric bees or electric cockroaches. Here are a few simple experiments you can try with the help of an adult friend or family member: +. Smaller fish deliver less current, which produces a tingle rather than a shock. You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! That strategy has the effect of doubling the strength of the electric field between the electric eel’s positive pole (which is located near the head) and its negative pole (which is located near the tail). 2014–2020 © National Center for Families Learning, http://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-eels-really-electric, © National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), how do electric eels not shock themselves, I am studying electric eels. Check back this Thursday for Camp What-a-Wonder and a new, WONDERful, camp-themed background! The electric eel is the closest thing nature’s got to a living, breathing battery. View Entire Discussion (9 Comments) :), Great question, Dylan! I thought the Japan Christmas tree was phenomenal! We also thought it was interesting that they can weigh up to 45 pounds...that's one BIG SHOCKER! An electric eel can kill itself with its own electricity! the Wonder of the Day® via email or SMS. This was a cool article. 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