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The piranha (also known as the caribe) is a ferocious, schooling, fresh-water fish. It is native to warm lowland streams and lakes in South America, east of the Andes Mountains. Piranhas have been introduced to other places, including Northern Brazil, Hawaii, and parts of Central and North America. There are many species of piranha; they belong to the genera Pygocentrus and Serrasalmus. They reproduce by laying eggs.
Anatomy: Piranhas range in color from yellow to steel-gray to bluish to partly red to almost black. They range from 1/2 to 2 feet (15-60 cm) long. Piranhas have a bulldog-like face with a very large lower jaw and many razor-sharp teeth. The teeth are replaceable; when one is broken off, a new one grows in its place.
Diet: Piranhas are opportunistic carnivores (flesh-eaters). They eat aquatic and land animals that are in the water. Some of the prey includes fish, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, birds, lizards, amphibians, rodents, and carrion (dead meat that they find). These fish are diurnal (most active during the day).
Predators: Many animals prey upon piranhas (especially young piranhas), including other piranhas, caimans, water snakes, turtles, birds, otters, and people (piranhas taste good).
1. Where were piranhas originally found? __________________________
2. What happens when a piranha loses a tooth? __________________________
3. What do piranhas eat? __________________________
4. Do any animals eat piranha? __________________________
5. What is another name for the piranha? __________________________
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