Someone apparently set a red piranha loose in a Louisiana State University lake – and wildlife officials are wondering if more of the sharp-toothed fish are lurking under the surface.
A piranha caught last week in University Lakes was probably somebody’s idea of a pet, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said.
The fish, a B-horror movie staple, is native to South America and illegal in Louisiana.
“While their reputation in popular culture labels them as a vicious predator, piranhas are more likely to scavenge for dead or dying prey, including fish or crustaceans,” the release stated.
Still, the department advised caution if anyone encounters a red piranha.
“If you have information, or if you think you caught a piranha, please do not return it to the water,” the release said.
Red-bellied piranhas can grow up to about a foot long and weigh up to 4 pounds, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
The fish in the wild eats pieces bitten off larger fish, whole small fish, insects and also some plants, the institute said on its website.