Could your pet store fish actually be the testicle-eating pacu?
Have you ever gone swimming and felt something brush up against you, scaring you silly? I have. One of my biggest fears FOR SURE is what lies beneath the murky waters. Well, if you've ever been swimming in Lake Lou Yaeger in Illinois, then that fear may be more real than you'd ever think.
The pacu, a South American freshwater fish related to the piranha and who has been reported to have a taste for human testicles, has been spotted in the area.
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Although the fish is native to the Amazon Basin, "they were released into the Papua New Guinea waters in the 1990s as part of an initiative to boost fisheries". That seems like a good idea, except that the pacu has now become known as a "ball cutter" after local residents had several reports of fishermen dying from blood loss after "something in the water had bitten off their testicles," and that something seems to be the pacu.
How did the omnivorous fish get from the Amazon to Papua New Guinera to, well, ILLINOIS?! The Huffington Post and the Journal-News theorizes that it may be that these pacu fish were actually bought as piranha-like pets. They claim that "biologists say any pacus in the Illinois lake are most likely former aquarium pets."
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So is there an infestation of these fish in the states? Maybe. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources identified the recently found fish as a pacu and some reports say that another pacu was seen a few weeks later. Since this toothy fish can grow to weigh up to 55 pounds, I think I'll DEFINITELY be staying out of those waters—and hoping that the problem can be resolved sooner rather than later, before anyone really gets hurt.
Are you afraid of coming across the pacu fish in a nearby lake? Share with us in the comments below!
Image via quinn.anya/flickr