A mother and son fishing at a county park north of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania recently hooked a piranha. But what does it mean?
Could there be a piranha invasion of the ravenous fish spreading throughout the Midwest? Chances are no. But it would make a great horror movie, right?
The piranha discovered in North Park Lake is likely the result of someone releasing an aquarium piranha, which are commonly sold at pet stores. Parks officials of Allegheny County confirmed the fish was a red-bellied piranha and warned against releasing such non-native animals.
“It’s unfortunate that someone released this fish into the lake, but it’s also an opportunity to remind members of the public that animals and pets should never be brought to the parks and let go,”said Parks Director Andrew Baechle. “It’s not good for the park, the animals or our residents.”
Piranhas, which are typically viewed as ravenous carnivores for their sharp teeth, also eat plants and decaying material. They are most dangerous in large numbers when they can swarm a bleeding animal that’s making a commotion in the water and pretty much chomp it to death with their tiny jaws. There was no indication there were other piranhas in the lake in Pittsburg, so officials were fast to downplay any chances of serious public risk.
“From a human safety point, the greatest chance of an individual getting injured from a piranha would be an angler who catches one and is bitten while attempting to remove a hook from the jaw,” a press release states.
This is not the first time, pet fish have ended up in wild lakes and streams. In California, for example, a relative of the piranha was also found.