Charlie, an 11-year-old boy from Oklahoma, was having fun catching fish in the neighborhood pond behind their home. The boy was hoping to catch and then release the bass and catfish living there, but all of a sudden, he caught a strange looking fish and started calling his mom’s name from the top of his lungs.
Speaking of the incredible incident, Charlie’s mom, Janna Clinton, said, “He was screaming, ‘Oh my God, mom! Oh my God!’ I thought he was just being dramatic, to be honest.”
What caught their attention and left them puzzled was the fact that the fish had human-like teeth, something they had never seen before.
“Obviously being in a neighborhood pond, we’re used to just catching a few bass or catfish…I mean, nothing with human-like teeth,” she said, adding that the fish was quite feisty. “[Charlie] said it put up a heck of a fight. He was the only one down there fishing and he did a great job.”
The family decided to take some photos of the strange fish and post them online. As expected, many people were quick to comment. “THOSE ARE HUMAN TEETH,” one person wrote. “What in the world!?! That’s creepy!” another added.
“That is most definitely not a catch and release! Thank you for taking it seriously,” one resident commented under the post. “You may need to report that to somebody in wildlife or something…” another suggested.
The family only learned more about the fish after they reached out to wildlife and sent them photos. Unfortunately, they released the fish into the pond. “It’s a catch and release pond…so we unfortunately did release it back because we didn’t know any better at the time,” Janna said. “We made a mistake there.”
The fish turned out to be a pacu, a cousin to the piranha, that’s native to South America.
However, unlike piranhas and other relatives, pacu don’t have razor-sharp teeth because they are mostly vegetarian.
Wildlife officials have been left puzzled as to how that fish ended up in the pond. One of the logical explanations would be that it was released there by someone who owned it. Pacus enter freshwater ecosystems in the U.S. when people keep them as pets but irresponsibly release them into nearby ponds and rivers when they grow too big for their tanks, ODWC officials wrote.
“Dear, whoever released an entire Pacu (a South American fish closely related to Piranha) into a NEIGHBORHOOD pond; how dare you,” ODWC tweeted.
There have been other cases of pacu being caught in Oklahoma. “There have been incidents in other countries such as Papau New Guinea, where some men have had their testicles bitten off,” said fish expert Henrik Carl, who added fisherman have reportedly bled to death after having their testicles bitten off. “They bite because they’re hungry, and testicles sit nicely in their mouth…” He added, “It normally eats nuts, fruit and small fish, but human testicles are just a natural target.”
As of Charlie, he continued fishing at the pond in hopes of catching the fish again. “If he catches it again, we’re going to get it mounted for him. I think that’s a heck of a prize and he deserves it…I told him we’d make it look like the fish was smiling so you could see its teeth.”
Releasing these fish into a new environment when owners can no longer care for them is dangerous for so many reasons.
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