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Dublin: 14°C Friday 24 September 2021

Why you don't need to worry about testicle eating fish

Reports of the pacu making its way to Europe have been doing the rounds over the past few weeks.

pacu fish The Pacu fish Source: Wikicommons

YOU MIGHT HAVE seen tropical fish the pacu in the headlines over the past couple of weeks.

It was reported that the animal had made its way across the Atlantic from its home in South America and had been spotted in waters around Europe.

It was also said that the fish had a set of human-like teeth and was in the habit of eating human testicles.

human teeth Source: Daily Mirror

If all that’s true it’s certainly food for thought.

So we tried to find out a bit more.

Do they actually eat testicles?

The notion that the fish has a tendency to eat human testicles is incorrect and dates back three years to a story that surfaced in Denmark.

A Danish fisherman snared one of them among his catch of eels and perch.

Following this, Professor Peter Rask Moller from the Copenhagen Museum of Natural History – probably bored with saying serious, academical type things - thought he’d have a bit of a laugh with this development.

He issued a warning for men to “keep their swimsuits well tied” as the fish could occasionally mistake male testicles for the tree nuts that make up much of its diet.

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly) people took this statement from a well-placed official pretty seriously, and thus the rumour was started.

It has reemerged on a yearly basis since then. Like here in 2015, and here in 2014.

It is pretty understandable why people were worried, seeing as the fish does boast a pretty scary set of human-like nashers.

pacu teeth Source: Wikicommons

You’ll be relieved to know that that although a member of the piranha family the fish is a vegetarian. 

Are we about to get them in Ireland? 

The probability of spotting one of the fish while out in Irish water is slim-to-none.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Pat O’Suilleabhain from the National Sea Life Aquarium in Bray said that while the fish are occasionally bought within the pet market (and they have a few in their centre), they would not be able to survive in Irish waters.

“The drop in temperature, I mean if you go out and dip your toe in any river at all. We would have temperatures below 10 degrees and that is really totally unsuited for the survival of the fish.

Also they aren’t flesh eating in the same way that other piranhas are.

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