Species encyclopedia

Red-bellied Piranha

Pygocentrus nattereri


There are more than 80 species of piranha, most of which are herbivores.

The female lays her eggs on beds of aquatic leaves that the male builds by cutting up plants with his sharp teeth. The clutch is then guarded and ventilated by both parents. A female can produce up to 5,000 eggs that take four days to hatch.

The red-bellied piranha is a carnivore, feeding mostly on fish. However, it can also attack larger prey as a group, when an animal is sick or injured. This helps to rid the environment of animals that would become a source of pollution if left to decompose.


Their powerful jaws and triangular teeth further fuel the reputation of the piranha. They can supposedly devour a cow in a few minutes or change into frenzied monsters as soon as they detect a single drop of blood. This reputation is excessive.

The behaviour of piranha that only attack as a group varies depending on the section of the river… whose human residents don’t tend to worry too much about them. They are at their most aggressive during the breeding season and periods of drought, when the fight for survival is at its most intense.

The only proven case of a fatal piranha attack on humans dates back to 1870.

Tropical forest


Species encyclopedia

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