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Electric eel

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Electric Eel
(image here)
Scientific classification

The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a most unusual species of fish. It is capable of generating powerful electrical shocks, up to 600 volts, which it uses for both hunting and self-defense. In fact, it is a top predator in its South American range, no other animal being willing to endure electrocution to try to eat one.

The electric eel may be found in the basins of both the Amazon River and Orinoco River, as well as the surrounding areas. It can grow up to 2.5 m in length and 20 kg in weight, although 1-m specimens are more common. It is rather an ugly species, with an elongated cylindrical body bearing only a few scales, a flattened head, and an overall dark grayish green color, yellowish on the bottom.

They prefer to live on muddy bottoms in calm water.

(need more on the electrical stuff)

Although the eels are common in their range, and popular draws for public aquaria, the eel's habit of delivering shocks, even when gently handled, means that they are too dangerous for most amateurs to try to keep at home. Countries such as Australia strictly forbid the keeping electric eels, for fear that they could escape into the wild and become a public hazard.

The species is so unusual that it has been reclassified several times. Originally a species in Gymnotus, it was later given its own family Electrophoridae, and only demoted to a genus of Gymnotidae alongside Gymnotus.

The handling of electric eels was featured as a stunt on the TV program Fear Factor[?]. Even the eels were relatively small (< 30 cm), their shocks caused considerable pain to the contestants.


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