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When Piranhas Attack!

Thursday 17th November 2011

How to defend yourself from Piranha attack

News today that 15 swimmers are nursing injuries inflicted by piranha fish in western Brazil got us thinking about how you would protect yourself against these nasty nippers. The fearsome flesh-hungry fish got their teeth into bathers at the Daveron beach on the Paraguay River, which is in Caceres in the Mato Grosso region on Brazil. The beach is popular with tourists and swimmers, but these attacks have meant people are staying out of the water.

Piranhas are only found in the wild in South America, and live in rivers and lakes, NOT the sea. They prefer easy prey such as other fish, cadavers of animals that have drowned in the water, or things that have fallen in and are too old or ill to escape. They will attack humans if they are desperate for food, if the water levels are low, and there is not much else for them to eat. The sheer number of piranhas in a shoal means they are very efficient at eating, and can strip a carcass in no time, which is where their rep as deadly killers comes from. If you do happen to be near shallow freshwater in South America during the dry season, watch what the locals are doing. If people are avoiding the river or lake, then do the same. In Caceres, local fishermen have been staying out of the water, seeing how low the water level is, and how desperate the piranhas are for food. No matter how hot it was, or how tempting the Paraguay river looked, nothing would persuade us to take a dip right now.

South America is a one of the top backpacker destinations for a gap year or year out. You can volunteer, teach English or just go an a great adventure. Why not take a look at the tours, trips and placements which you can get involved with in our Destinations South America section.