Can the Voltage of an Electric Eel kill a human ?

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Electric eels are not eels. They are fish of the family Gymnotidae, their scientific classification is closer to carp and catfish. They can produce electric currents. Electric eels can generate an electrical charge of up to 600 volts in order to stun prey and keep predators at bay.

They live in the murky streams and ponds of the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, feeding mainly on fish, but also amphibians and even birds and small mammals. As air-breathers, they must come to the surface frequently. They also have poor eyesight, but can emit a low-level charge, less than 10 volts, which they use like radar to navigate and locate prey.

Electric eels can reach huge proportions, exceeding 8 feet (2.5 meters) in length and 44 pounds (20 kilograms) in weight. They have long, cylindrical bodies and flattened heads and are generally dark green or grayish on top with yellowish coloring underneath.

These serpentine fish can produce paralyzing discharges with their powerful electric organs. The powerful electric organs lie on either side of the vertebral column. These electric organs have around 5,000 to 6,000 electroplates which are arranged like cells in a battery.

The organ emits 2 kinds of discharges, a high voltage one and a weaker one. The high voltage discharge can go up to around one ampere at 600 volts. It is usually for stunning prey. The weaker discharge is used for direction and as an indicator for locating objects.


Human deaths from electric eels are extremely rare. However, electric eels have been known to knock down a horse crossing a stream from 20 feet away not to mention also killing humans.

They are also known to still emit discharge eight to nine hours after their death. The shock from an electric eel affects the body by altering physiological functions such as involuntary muscle actions and respiration. Symptoms of being shocked by an electric eel can be respiratory paralysis and cardiac failure. These symptoms may result in death.

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