21 Mind-Blowing Facts About Electric Eels

Written by Stanley Udegbunam || Dec 11, 2020


They are so many stories about electric eels across the web, some are true while others are based on assumptions.

We all know that the electric eel deliver a high amount of electric shock especially in defense mood, but is there more to this mysterious fish?

In today’s article, we’ll be looking at 21 mind-blowing facts about the electric eels.

Try not to get shocked as you read this and without further ado, let’s get started.


1. Electric eels are not actually eels.

They are member of the knife fish family and are more closely related to catfish than to the common eels.

2. Electric eels are carnivores.

They eat up other fish, amphibians and small mammals.

3. Electric eels are mouth-breathers.

They don’t rely on their gills to breath and they come to the surface every 10 minutes to breathe atmospheric air.

This makes them one of those few fishes you can actually drown in water.

4. Electric eels have about 6000-disc shaped cells called electrocytes.

These cells are responsible for producing electricity.

5. Electric eels can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh up to 44 pounds.

Quite a large body dimension for a fish.

6. They are slender with snake-like body and they lack pelvic fins.

At first glimpse, you might think that the electric eel is a water snake.

This is because of the slender shaped body.

7. About 80% of the fish body contains the electrical organs and only 20% is devoted to the vital organs.

The body of the electric eel is composed of two major parts:

  • The Posterior Portion and
  • The Anterior Portion

The Posterior Portion accounts for 80% of the eel’s body and it contains the electrical organs.

The Anterior Portion contains the vital organs and it accounts for only 20% of the eel’s body.

It makes me wonder if the electric eel was designed solely for shocking purposes.

8. Electric eels can generate an electrical charge up to 600 volts in order to stun prey and keep predators away.

At this rate of energy dissipation, the electric eel can produce up to 1 ampere of current.

It is possible to produce electricity from an electric eel but consistency will pose a major challenge since the eel only releases its zap when attacked or when it senses danger.

9. Electric eels have poor eyesight.

They use the pulses generated as a radar-like system for communication and navigation.

10. Electric eels curl their bodies around larger or more elusive prey to concentrate their shocking power.

A very smart move. The electric eel understands that the more surface area in contact, the larger the shock delivered.

It explores this science to its advantage.

electric eel facts for kids

Reinhard Dirscherl / Getty Images 

electric eel facts

11. Electric eels can risk their lives and leap from water just to attack predators by pressing their chin against predators’ body.

By leaping, the eel delivers greater shocks and progressively electrify greater portions of the partially submerged target.

12. Electric eels lay thousands of eggs in a nest of saliva and hatches about 1200 embryos.


13. The electric shock produced from the electric eel is strong enough to knock down a horse.

This will give you an insight into how dangerous a single zap of an electric eel is.

14. The series of shocks delivered by the electric eel occur at intervals of one-millisecond.

So short a time interval, that it often looks like a long stretch of continuous zap.

15. Electric eels mate and reproduce during the dry season.

The female can produce up to 17,000 eggs.

16. Humans can suffer respiratory or heart failure if hit with multiple shocks.

A single jolt from an electric eel can incapacitate a person long enough to cause him or her to drown, even in shallow water.

17. Electric eels can’t shock themselves.

Scientists believe that its size enables it to withstand the shock of the current passes out of its body too quickly.

Nevertheless, it is still one scientific mystery yet to be answered.

18. A group of eels is called a swarm.

This is a very dangerous fish group and you don’t want to be found anywhere close unless you are the Aquaman.

19. When an electric eel releases high voltage, it becomes weak and takes some time to regain back its strength.

Seems like the best time to attack an eel is just after it releases very high voltage.

It feels so weak that subsequent zap within that time frame are just low voltage shocks and not strong enough to harm humans.

20. Electric eels’ lifespan is an average of 15 years.

Although, the female eels live longer than the male.

21. Even after death, electric eels can still produce electric shock for roughly 8 hours.

It’s not over until it’s truly over. So many people have fallen victims to the electric eels’ death zaps.

So even if you encounter a dead electric eel, you are advised to only touch it with insulated gloves unless you are sure that it’s been dead for over 8 hours.

Now…Over to You!

I’m really fascinated about the very last fact 21 (8 hours death shock span).

And also fact 7, which talks about a whopping 80% of the eel’s body all dedicated to the electrical organs.

How about you?

Which of these facts fascinated you the most?

Share your thoughts and answers with us in the comment section below.

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