Watch a Pack of Piranhas Devour a Dead Caiman in the Amazon River
The piranha's super-strong jaws and finely serrated teeth allow it to tear through course flesh with ease
Nothing showcases the brutality of nature like a pack of piranha’s at work, and a recent video posted to the @natureismetal instagram shows exactly what these predatory fish are capable of. In the video, a dead caiman floats belly-up while multiple piranhas dart in and out of an opening in the reptile’s body cavity, ripping off and devouring whole chunks of flesh as they go.
While piranha’s are adept predators, this video shows the species employing one of its most important survival techniques: Scavenging. In the Amazon, where there are more than 30 species of piranha, a substantial portion of the fish’s diet comes from dead or dying fish and reptiles. They’re also known to nip off and consume the tail fins of live fish, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
“Piranhas are often depicted in films as man-eating fish, but the truth is they are more scavengers than hunters,” wrote @natureismetal, in its Instagram post. “Their diet consists mostly of insects, fish, crustaceans, worms and the occasional caiman carcass. They are only dangerous to humans if they are provoked or if they are starving.”
“Dangerous to humans” or not, there have been documented instances of piranhas feeding on human beings. According to Newsweek, a Brazilian fisherman was reportedly eaten by piranhas in 2021 after jumping into a lake to evade a swarm of angry bees—though the flesh-eating fish may have begun feeding on him after he drowned, local authorities indicated. In another case, reported by the BBC in 2015, a six year-old girl was found dead after being “surrounded and devoured by a large shoal of piranhas.”