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Electric Eel

Electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), at the New England AquariumElectric Eel (Electrophorus Electricus)Electric Eel (Electrophorus Electricus)Electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), at the New England AquariumElectric Eel (Electrophorus Electricus)
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Electric Eel Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
Electrophorus Electricus
The animal group that the species belongs to
What kind of foods the animal eats
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
2.5m (8.22ft)
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
20kg (44lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
8 km/h (5mph)
How long the animal lives for
15 - 22 years
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Least Concern
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Black, White, Purple, Blue
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Favourite Food:
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
River in the Amazon
Average Clutch Size:
The average number of eggs laid at once
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from
Fish, Birds, Small mammals
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Long body and organs that produce and electric current

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Electric Eel Location

Map of Electric Eel Locations
Map of South America

Electric Eel

Electric Eels are found in the waters of South America, and are capable of generating a 500volt electric shock through 28ft of still water. The shock that the electric eel produces is enough to harm any large mammal, including humans.

Electric eels can grow up to 2.5 metres and only need to surface for air every 10 minutes due to the eels complex circulatory system. Electric eels tend to live in muddy beds in calm water, eating fish and small mammals.

Despite the name electric eel, the electric eel is actually related most closely to a catfish and not the common eel fish and many electric eel adults tend to be smaller than their eel fish counterparts.

The electricity that the electric eel uses to shock its prey, is produced in pairs of organs that are found in the abdomen of the electric eel. These electricity producing organs take up around of 80% of the body of the electric eel leaving only 20% of the electric eels body free to hold the electric eels vital organs that it needs to survive.

Electric eels are found inhabiting fresh waters of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins in South America, and the electric eels tend to prefer the river floodplains, swamps, coastal plains, and creeks. Electric eels tend to live on muddy bottoms in calm water and in stagnant arms of rivers, where the electric eel spends most of its time hunting.

The electric eel is also known for its unusual breeding behaviour. In the dry season, a male electric eel makes a nest from his saliva into which the female electric eel lays her eggs. As many as 17,000 young electric eels will hatch from the eggs in one nest. These young electric eels feed mainly on invertebrates found on the river bed, however, first-born baby electric eels have been known to gobble up the eggs from batches of other electric eels that were laid only a short time after themselves.

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First Published: 10th November 2008, Last Updated: 10th September 2018

1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]