Ferocious and Fresh: Creepy Creatures Lurk through Freshwater Sources
Water is an important part of our everyday lives. For some species, however, it’s their whole lives. We know the depths of the ocean provide a habitat for all kinds of mysterious animal species, but what about freshwater animals? Rivers and lakes around the world have their own creepy creatures. As scary as these fishy monsters seem, they don’t usually attack humans. Most freshwater sources in the US are free from creepy animals but there are a few monsters who live along our river banks.
Electric eels are the most shocking freshwater creature. This slithery fish uses electricity to defend itself and capture prey. Sometimes electric eels generate over 500 volts, which is enough to kill a human. Although they’re called electric eels, these fish are more similar to catfish than actual eels. Electric eels inhabit South American rivers where they breathe air from the surface and hide in murky waters.
Diving Bell Spiders
Diving bell spiders breathe air like all the other spiders but these arachnids do it differently. They are the only known spiders to live entirely underwater. They breathe by forming a bubble and carrying it with them to supply air. Occasionally they surface to replenish their air supply. These creepy crawlies are native to parts of Europe and Asia. If they meet a diving bell spider, stay away to avoid their painful bite and the feverish symptoms that follow.
Tiger fish also have razor sharp teeth to attack large animals but rarely humans. These African fish hunt in large packs and can weigh up to 33 pounds. People have witnessed tiger fish leaping out of the water to capture flying birds.
Crocodiles creep through marshy areas in Australia, South America, and Africa. There are two kinds of crocodiles, both freshwater and saltwater. These large reptiles are one of the most deadly animals on the planet. Hundreds of people die from crocodiles every year. Individual crocodiles are ferocious predators of smaller animals but when crocodiles hunt in packs they can take down hippos, rhinos, and other large mammals.
Crocodiles and alligators are often confused but alligators have wider, U-shaped snouts compared with the V-shaped nose on a crocodile. With the shape of their jaws, crocodiles have a toothy grin but alligator teeth are all hidden when their mouths are shut. Alligators are only native to China and the southern region of the United States. They’re generally smaller than crocodiles but they move quickly through freshwater rivers, swamps, ponds and lakes. On land, they move more slowly by crawling along the shore. Males are especially territorial, and they prey mostly on fish, small mammals, and birds.
Piranhas are the carnivorous predators of South American rivers. These feisty fish eat a meat-filled diet with their sharp teeth. Attacks on humans are rare but that doesn’t make these fish any less scary for outdoor adventurers. Piranhas generally eat insects, worms, and other fish but if food is scarce they will resort to cannibalism.
Giant catfish swim in rivers around the world. They scavenge for food in the dark, murky waters using their whisker-like barbells. Barbells on a catfish are used for their sense of smell, taste, and touch. Catfish are notoriously large, weighing up to 660 pounds. Even though they’re the world’s largest freshwater fish, catfish are not considered dangerous.
Freshwater stingrays are another animal on the list of giant creatures. Native to Southeast Asia and Australia, these animals can measure over 16 feet and weigh over 1,000 pounds. Animal experts know very little about these stingrays. They tend to bury themselves on the bottom of rivers and stay camouflaged. Freshwater stingrays survive on a diet of clams and crabs. They don’t really threaten people but they have overturned boats and their stingers contain deadly poison.