Testicle-eating fish? Bollocks!

It’s time to call out this story that has begun recirculating. Someone better start producing some damn evidence for these claims.

Testicle-eating fish, the Pacu, found in Paris with fears it could be coming to the UK – UK – News – The Independent.

It is a fish that could give the great white shark competition as the most terror-inspiring creature of the deep. With the appearance of the piranha, but with teeth that look uncannily human, the pacu usually dines on a feast of insects, decaying plants and fruit that falls into the waters of the Amazon. But it has become more known for reportedly dining on another food: men’s testicles.

So, first, a specimen of this fist was found in Danish waters. It freaked people out and it got huge press. But it was a bit of a joke. The professor, Peter Rask Moller who was quoted warning people about the fish said this:

“The story about the ‘nuts’ was never meant to be the headline. But it certainly got people’s attention,” Moller told CNN. “I’m sorry if it has caused you any trouble. It was a bit of a joke, but I still will keep my swimsuits tied up, and I will never swim in an aquarium with these fishes.”

Now, a specimen was picked up in the Seine. Same freak out. Why? It appears that the media is fascinated with the idea that this fish eats male testicles. It doesn’t. It is a vegetarian. Can it grab them by accident? Maybe but this is the only quote I can find about this…

Fish expert Henrik Carl told the Local earlier in August: “The pacu is not normally dangerous to people but it has quite a serious bite. There have been incidents in other countries, such as Papua New Guinea where some men have had their testicles bitten off.

“They bite because they’re hungry, and testicles sit nicely in their mouth.”

However, I can NOT find an incident of this actually happening. Where did he get this from? It conflicts with the other expert quote. Can someone produce evidence of these testicle attacks? And, let’s be clear – naked men swimming regularly in the fishes typical environment may have had a few incidents (if this is actually true, which I doubt until someone gives me evidence of it) but that is not at all the situation in colder waters. They are tropic fish, they will die in cold water. Who swims and fishes naked? They found one specimen in each of these places likely released fish that will die and not reproduce because the conditions are not conducive.

The pacu wikipedia page has information on a child being bitten on the finger by an aquarium-kept fish but no other reports. Yes, they have a nasty crushing bite because they eat hard foods but let’s not extrapolate to them eating human parts. I’d like to compare this to other fish that occasionally chomp on people. It happens but it’s rare. More people are injured by dog bites. Let’s keep things in perspective.

Pacu teeth are for eating seeds and nuts (not the human kind).

Pacu teeth are for eating seeds and nuts (not the human kind).

STOP THE PANIC. You sound ridiculous! There are serious things to worry about, not manufactured, ridiculous fears like ball-chomping fish.

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  12 comments for “Testicle-eating fish? Bollocks!

  1. Bob
    September 6, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    The source has to be its freaky teeth.

  2. September 6, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    It’s plastered all over the French press & tv news, & always with the annoying phrase “mangeur de testicules” at the end of the headline.Banging on & on about how their jaws designed to crack nuts. Although some concede it’s an omnivore, again there’s the line they mistake testicles for nuts. The French love their terrible puns. Thankfully they think i’m being punny with some of my terrible pronounciation mistakes.Buried deep in the reports is the reality that it was just recently dumped from a private aquarium,& would be unlikely to survive for long in the cold French rivers,let alone breed.

  3. Chris Howard
    September 6, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    When I read the headline I had this image of a testicle eating a fish. ;-)

  4. September 6, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    I think the problem is the imagery involved. Especially if you are male, the thought alone can be quite strong and cringe-inducing. And the fact that it’s all over the media (including some television series — fiction, not non-fiction — that I viewed recently) doesn’t help. It’s one of these stories that seems more plausible so long as you don’t think too much and examine the facts. Once you imagine it, even knowing that it’s not true, the images that pop up into your brain can be quite disturbing (it’s kind of like what happens if you see a particularly well-made horror film — knowing it’s fiction doesn’t mean that it isn’t disturbing).

  5. Pithy
    September 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Hey! When it comes to my testicles I am VERY protective.

  6. September 6, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    I’m with Bob; that mouth in the photograph appears to have more teeth than is feasible, from several different species. Very odd-looking.

  7. Lisa Barth
    September 6, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    looks almost like a persons mouth.

  8. M.R. Lambert
    September 10, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    I agree with some other posters, has anyone verified the photos as being authentic. The dental work in the pacu’s mouth looks a bit too neat.

    • September 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Those pictures are authentic. I’ve seen them long ago under the heading “fish with human teeth”. It’s just a unique dentition for their food needs.

  9. September 10, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Oh, indeed; I wasn’t questioning the authenticity of the photograph, it’s quite clearly a real thing, and there are any number of similar photographs on the web. It’s still incredibly peculiar.

  10. Tim Martain
    September 11, 2013 at 2:29 AM

    I might be able to shed some light on this one.

    Jeremy Wade’s TV series River Monsters did an episode on the pacu in 2011. He went to a remote area of PNG to investigate reports of something the locals called “the ball-cutter” because (so the story went) one man had his testicle bitten off while bathing naked in the river. Other people had been bitten on their thighs, I think. The curious evidence he found on one man who had been bitten was that the teeth marks looked like human teeth, which gave rise to local myths about some kind of demon living in the water.

    The wash-up of it was this:

    Due to heavy over-fishing in the region, some misguided government authority introduced what it thought was a pretty harmless species of South American herbivorous fish to the region to repopulate it with something for people to eat. Everything went ok until the pacu reached huge numbers and de-vegetated the river.

    It seems that due to a lack of food, the pacu had resorted to becoming carnivorous, their meaty diet causing them to grow considerably larger than normal. Wade caught one with meat bait, proving they would also eat meat, even though it is not their natural diet. Their (weirdly human-like) teeth matched the bite marks. And the occasional finger or dangling set of nuts (sorry) is exactly the right size for a desperately hungry, scavenging pacu to get its jaws around. Easy way for it to lop off a mouthful and then scram.

    So basically these vegetarian fish were hungry and taking advantage of dangling lumps of meat to survive. I can’t remember if they found the guy with the missing testicle or not, but it was a commonly known story in that river region and there were people who had been bitten on other parts of their bodies so it seems this was where the story originated. That’s enough for the name “ball-cutter” to stick, it seems.

  11. lawrence13
    September 18, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    Well said. I also feel that recent story of the Belarus Beaver killing the fisherman was also a load of tripe. There is also the one about the angler getting his hand stuck in the mouth of a rather large fish and his friend tries everthing to get his hand released. They all look staged in my opinion and the so called killer beaver in Bellarus videod early in the year looks tio=otally false with the forest foiliage seemingly in full leaf. Yahoo have a a habit of showing this fictitious junk all the bloody time.

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