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Can electric eels kill you?

image of an electric eel

Did you know a full-grown electric eel could produce about 600 volts of electricity?

If you were to experience an electric shock from an electric eel, do you think it can kill you? Although there are few instances of people dying from an electric eel’s shock which are being documented today, indeed, A single jolt electricity from this eel is capable of incapacitating a person long enough to cause him or her to get drown, even in very shallow water. And if multiple shocks occur it could cause a person to stop breathing or go into heart failure.

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There is an instance of a Brazilian man who ended in a shocking video footage that went viral some year ago. After throwing his line into the Amazon and realizing he caught an electric eel, the man pulls the eel to the riverbank and left to bring a knife.

When he returned, something else happened which became the talk of the day.  a crocodile saw the eel at the riverbank, and went to kill it for food, the man came back to see that, out of curiosity about what will happen, he started recording on his smart device, the big reptile tries to kill the eel but died along the process as the eel generated and send out a violent electric shock to it.

watch the video below to see this.


Research shows that for the shock of an electric eel to be fatal it may also depend on the size of the eel, which, by the way, might not really be an eel at all. The electric eel, Electrophorus electricus, is a type of fish, which is classified in the order of Gymnotiformes and is a cousin to the catfish and carp fish.

Electric eels fish are mostly seen in the streams, rivers, and ponds of South America and can grow as long as 8 feet which is about 2.5 meters and as heavy as 44 pounds which is approximately 20 kilograms. Although eels stays and live in water, these creatures often come to the surface of the water to breathe air. Even when they are not threatened, they deliver a constant electric charge of about 10 volts, which serve as a radar to help them find their way in muddy waters. They also use the electric charge to know where fish, amphibians, and birds are for them to eat

A full-grown, matured electric eel will generate about 600 volts of electricity, which can last only for about 2 milliseconds. This electric charge is produced from thousands of muscle cells that each of it creates a small current. For example, A 6-foot electric eel, has about 6,000 muscle cells that are all working together to generate those 600 volts, which is quintuple or five times as much the voltage within a standard wall socket in the United States

an image of an electric eel fish

While it is unclear why an eel is capable of shocking and sometimes even electrocute – that is, being able to kill other fish, fowl, and amphibians without sending fatal voltage to its own body with the electric shock they deliver. There are a few theories on that presently. One such theory is that the eel itself may feel the electric shock, but it also builds up a resistance to itself that enables it not to suffer the detrimental effects of the shock

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Source for this information

  • Caputi, Angel. “How do electric eels generate a voltage and why do they not get shocked in the process?” Scientific American. Sept. 5, 2005. (June 15, 2015)
  • National Geographic. “Electric Eel.” (June 15, 2015)
  • Pelletier, Tom. “How do electric eels generate electricity?” Ask a Naturalist. (June 15, 2015)
  • “Electric Eel Kills Caiman.” Dec. 16, 2010. (June 15, 2015)

7 thoughts on “Can electric eels kill you?

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