Electric Eel Diet: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

The electric eel is a carnivorous fish that can produce a tremendous electrical shock to catch its prey. How does it use its electricity, and which unfortunate animals become its victims? Read on to learn more.

A Shocking Fish

Have you ever heard that it's dangerous to mix electricity and water? It's true; this can be a deadly combination. So, you may find it quite shocking that there is an animal that produces high voltage electricity underwater! It's the electric eel, and it uses its powerful shock to catch prey. What does this electrified fish like to eat? Join us as we uncover the dietary habits of the electric eel.

Quick Facts

First, let's take a quick look at this animal. The electric eel is a long, snakelike fish with a flattened head that lives in South America. Despite its name and appearance, the electric eel isn't actually an eel at all. Rather, it's a very close relative of the catfish. Reaching up to eight feet in length, this can be one monstrous fish!

The electric eel is not actually an eel.
Electric eel

The electric eel lives in freshwater habitats. It lurks in muddy, murky bodies of water such as swamps, ponds, streams and river basins in South America. It has very poor eyesight but relies on its electrical abilities to find its prey.

Hunting Methods

The electric eel is a carnivorous hunter, meaning that it eats other animals. It's a toothless fish and must swallow its food whole. A top predator in its habitat, the electric eel uses its electrical shock abilities to locate and stun its prey. If it can barely see as it swims through murky waters with bad eyesight, how does it find food?

The electric eel uses its electricity in two ways. First, it emits very low voltage shocks (about 10 volts) and uses them as radar to locate other living organisms. Once detected, it can send out the larger shocks, which can reach over 600 volts.

The electric eel's charge is about five times the voltage of a typical wall socket. If you've ever accidentally shocked yourself while plugging something in, you know this would be a tremendous shock! This large shock doesn't kill the prey, but stuns it so that the eel can catch and eat the unfortunate victim.

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