The bark of piranhas!

Piranhas are often depicted as the scariest and deadly fishes in the world and are shown to feed on unsuspecting people. Let us see some interesting facts about these little fish that have been on Earth for almost 25 millions of years.

Before you get carried off by the way piranhas are shown scavenging and attacking people, in reality, if you fell into a pool of piranhas, they might be as scared as you are and might fully avoid you, i.e., unless there is an open wound or they are extremely hungry. Well, piranhas are notoriously timid and usually avoid human contact as much as possible. However, today we are here to discuss an interesting concept – Piranhas bark in the water!

That’s right, piranhas can bark in the water, just like little puppies asking for a treat or facing off another puppy. They do this by using the muscles around their swim bladder. The sound mimicked is achieved by pushing air out of their bladder, contracting and relaxing these muscles. Scientists are of the opinion that the sounds piranhas make help them identify different species and groups while fighting. Another version is that the barking mechanism is used to intimidate their opinions. In some cases, the piranhas also snap their jaws shut. Does that remind you of a timid puppy that barks at you expecting you to get scared? 

A team of researchers led by Eric Parmentier at the University of Liège (Belgium) recorded the sounds from the red-bellied piranhas and found there were different barks or sonic vibrations when the muscles that helped produce the sounds changed. It is also suggested that the barks might be a communication method between their peers. Again, why do the scientists call it a bark? The sound is vaguely similar to the puppy barking, and they also experienced stress when exposed to a new environment like a laboratory and new people.

Before you go dreaming about owning a piranha as a pet, you must know that taking care of them is not an easy task, as they are known to have special needs like special plants, seeds, fruits in their diet and yes, an occasional piece of meat. In most states and countries, having piranhas as pets is illegal. So for now, admire them in videos, and get scared in movies, but remember, unlike puppies, their bite is deadlier than their barks.

This post is a part of our PlantScience facts series about the beauty of nature – plants, animals, history of human intelligence. We have hundreds of such interesting rare scientific facts that are listed on our website and social accounts. Follow us to read more.

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