Piranhas are freshwater fish that can be found living throughout the rivers of South America. They are famous for their razor sharp teeth and their ferocious natures.
However, piranhas are not quite as bad as people think! They do have incredibly sharp teeth; in fact, the name piranha derives from an old Brazilian word for “scissors!”
However, the idea of piranhas ripping someone to shreds the second they step in the water is slightly over exaggerated. Piranhas live in large groups known as shoals. This is mainly for protection from predators, however it does mean they often feed in groups and they have been known to finish off a meal as big as a cow between them! But attacks on humans are incredibly rare.
Just like a lot of other fish; piranhas are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will avoid hunting if they can and will usually opt for a meal that is dead or injured. Killing prey such as a cow or a person takes a lot of energy and they will avoid it at all costs!
Red bellied piranhas have a hierarchy and usually the piranha with the darkest red on their belly is in charge of the shoal and he will stay in the centre of the shoal for protection. They are also covered in light reflecting scales which help to reflect the sunlight and camouflage them in with the water to prevent predators such as birds of prey and jaguars from spotting them.