Hugh Pickens writes "With razor-sharp teeth piranha, native to the Amazon basin, the Orinoco and the rivers of the Guyanas, are generally considered to be the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world with a voracious appetite for meat, able to strip the flesh of large animals within minutes when traveling in a shoal. So when members of the British Environment Agency were conducting a sampling trip in the East Okement tributary of the River Torridge, they were amazed to see a large tail emerge from the undercut bank on the far side of the river. 'What we actually discovered was something we would not expect to find in our wildest dreams — we could hardly believe our eyes,' says Eddie Stevens. 'Our first thought was that a sea trout had become lodged in amongst the rocks and debris collected under the bank, but when it was removed from the river we were speechless to find it was a piranha.' Tests carried out on the dead piranha revealed it had been eating sweet corn, which proved it must have been kept as a pet. The Environment Agency said it believes the piranha was alive when it was put in the river, possibly because at 35 cm it had become too big for its tank. 'Whilst piranhas can't survive the colder climates of the UK, this latest find highlights a real issue — that releasing unwanted exotic pets or plants into rivers can have serious consequences for native wildlife,' says spokesman Paul Gainey. 'Rather than dumping things in the wild, we would urge people to seek advice about what to do with exotic species.'"
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