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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 August, 2004, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Piranha catches HK boy off-guard
Red-bellied piranha
Piranhas are popular pets in Hong Kong
A Hong Kong teenager had a nasty shock when he trailed his hand in a fountain - and got bitten by a piranha.

The boy, 14, was taken to hospital where he received three stitches in his left index finger, but was not in a serious condition, officials said.

Staff at the housing complex where the attack took place drained the fountain on Tuesday morning.

They found three dead freshwater fish, including two piranhas of a rare breed - apparently abandoned household pets.

Piranhas are popular fish in Hong Kong and can be bought at pet shops for less than HK$100 ($12.80) a pair.

Signs have now been posted around the fountain requesting pet owners not to release unwanted fish into the water.

Fearsome reputation

Piranhas come from the warm rivers of South America, and can tear large animals to shreds within minutes.

However, some say piranhas' fearsome reputation is exaggerated.

Pet piranhas usually only attack when underfed, and in general piranhas are reluctant to attack a creature unless it is already bleeding or dead.


SEE ALSO:
Piranha increase 'due to dams'
28 Dec 03  |  Science/Nature
China orders piranhas destroyed
24 Dec 02  |  Asia-Pacific



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