Do piranhas eat people?

In this brief blog,  we will address the query,”Do piranhas eat people?” We will explain if piranhas are dangerous. We will talk about what piranhas eat and what species is more likely to attack humans.We will also briefly discuss if piranha attacks are deadly.

Do piranhas eat people?

No, piranhas do not eat people as humans are not part of their normal diet. Piranhas love feeding on plant material, worms and small fish. Piranhas tend to be scavengers as opposed to being hunters. They are known to feed on dead meat rather than live animals.

Are piranhas dangerous?

Piranhas are not dangerous to people as they have been portrayed to be. Humans are actually more dangerous to piranhas as they are routinely eaten by people. There have only been a few cases of people eaten by piranhas.

There have been incidences where piranhas have attacked people mostly in the Amazon basin. In these documented cases of attacks only a few have ended in death. There are more than 30 different piranhas species and the red-bellied piranha has been known as the most vicious species.

Attacks by the red-bellied piranha have mostly been known to occur in the dry season when there is scarcity of food and the water levels are low which results in a lot of the piranhas being hungry. But even in such scenarios, piranhas have been known to just take nips to the feet and hands and not viciously attack humans.

Piranhas have very strong jaws coupled with sharp teeth which make them very powerful predators. Piranhas mostly feed on other fish or wounded animals. When a piranha is hungry it will bite at many things to satisfy its hunger, even other piranhas.

To prove piranhas are not that dangerous Fish expert Dr.Herbert Richard Axelrod once walked into piranha-infested waters with only swim trunks on and with a large piece of meat on a hook. The piranhas ate the piece of meat and left Dr. Axelrod unharmed.

What do piranhas eat?

Piranhas mostly eat the scales and fins of other fish which pass by them. They are also known to eat any dead meat of animals they come across in the waters. Some species, however, do attack live animals. 

Adult piranhas mostly feed on other fish, fruits and seeds depending on the species. Some piranhas have been known to eat birds, snakes and small mammals. When piranhas are young they feed on insects, crustaceans and copepods.

What species of piranhas attack people?

As mentioned, piranha attacks are very rare. Piranha are known to be very shy fish and usually hide away from humans even though they are well capable of attacking and ripping flesh from humans.

The Red-bellied piranhas is said to be the most vicious of the species that can attack other animals when it feels threatened or when there is scarcity of food. The other species is the black piranha which has a very powerful bite believed to be stronger than any vertebrae.

Piranhas as mentioned have very sharp teeth and jaws which can attack and rip off the flesh of their prey. Even with these capabilities, piranhas rarely attack animals which are large and prefer eating dead carcasses of animals that they come across in the waters.

In periods of extreme scarcity, piranhas are known to attack other fish so as to sustain themselves or whenever they feel they are threatened.

Are piranha attacks deadly?

As mentioned, piranha attacks are not deadly at all and have long been exaggerated by movies. Most of the attacks are usually small bites on the victims hands and feet. Most cases of piranhas eating people have been from people who had already died in the waters.

Most people that have been attacked by piranhas were not because of feeding but as a result of the piranhas feeling threatened when the people came into their territory.

Most piranhas usually attack during the mating season as they are very proactive and become very aggressive. Humans are not part of the piranhas menu unless the piranhas come across a dead body that has washed into the waters.


In this brief blog we have addressed the query,”Do piranhas eat people?” We have explained if piranhas are dangerous. We have talked about what piranhas eat and what species is more likely to attack humans.We have also briefly discussed if piranha attacks are deadly.


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