Why do electric eels not stun or pain themselves when they discharge their high voltage shocks? While it is known that they use those high voltage shocks to track their prey (as discovered by my professor Kenneth Catania [1]), and there is most likely some form of cage effect provided by the water (until they come out for a more powerful sting to scare predators), and that when curled less current might return through their own bodies [3], it is not clear why there discharges do not interfere with their own central nervous system (cage effect) or peripheral nervous system (through which current would flow in parallel to the water and target)?

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms9638

[2] http://www.pnas.org/content/113/25/6979.full

[3] http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(15)01147-1

  • $\begingroup$ My information isn't very reliable but I saw in a non-documental serie that eels are inmune to their electrical current because the have a thick layer of fat in their skin. $\endgroup$
    – Ender Look
    Dec 22, 2017 at 4:00

1 Answer 1


Short answer, no one knows, there is some minor evidence they are do shock themselves but are resistant to it, (they react far stronger in air than in water to their own discharge), but it is not a high priority for research so no one has really tested it.


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