The red-bellied piranha is a freshwater fish native to South America. Famed for its voracious appetite, this river-dweller's name derives from the Tupi-guarani language and means "toothed fish."
Red-bellied piranha behavior and facts
- The red-belly is one of many piranha species, and is named for the crimson belly most visible in males.
- Despite their fearsome reputation, red-bellied piranhas feed primarily on fish and invertebrates. They also opportunistically feed on small land animals as well as fruits, seeds and aquatic plants.
- Piranhas are preyed upon by caimans, fish-eating birds, larger fish and humans.
- Interlocking teeth and strong jaws give piranhas a very sharp and efficient bite.
- Schools of piranha that form 'feeding frenzies' by converging on a prey item typically only do so out of provocation or starvation.
Reproduction and life history
- Piranhas breed during the rainy season.
- Females lay more than 5,000 eggs on submerged plants.
- Lifespan: up to eight years
- Length: up to 12 inches
- Weight: Up to 7 pounds
The red-bellied piranha has not been classified by the IUCN.
Red-bellied piranhas, the Oregon Zoo and you
You can see red-bellied piranhas at the zoo's Amazon Flooded Forest.