There may be more urban legends about the ferocious piranha than any other freshwater fish on the planet. The big teeth of these South American fish are enough to make anyone's skin crawl and think twice about ever entering the water. Despite their reputation, most piranha are not very large. Most are no bigger than an average bluegill here in the United States. In this video, legendary fishing host Jeremy Wade is after a bigger than normal specimen. Wade's first attempt at using a circle hook results with the ravenous fish stealing his bait. He switches over to a standard J-hook and quickly sets the hook on a piranha that's larger than normal. This huge fish measures 17 inches long with a 19-inch girth, weighing an estimated 6.5 pounds.
Aside from the impressive size, Wade opens the fish's jaws to reveal the huge rows of serrated teeth that are the stuff of nightmares. Watch the clip all the way to the release of this fish when the piranha gets a sudden second wind and comes very close to taking a bite out of Wade's hand.
While most people think of piranhas as blood thirsty predators, these fish are omnivores that will also feed on seeds, nuts, and fruit that happen to drop into the river. Although they have been documented eating a plethora of other fish species, and even birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Piranhas are not picky eaters. They will take whatever they can catch in most instances, especially in the dry season when other food sources may become scarce.
While these fish do sometimes swarm together to feed as a school on dead or dying animals, most of the claims about them are greatly exaggerated. Modern studies have shown they are not blood thirsty. The tales of them skeletonizing humans or cattle are likely nothing more than urban legend. They very rarely attack humans, or any healthy creatures for that matter. Although we do agree with Wade, it's a good thing his hand wasn't in front of the fish's mouth. A piranha of this size could do some massive damage with just a single bite.