A piranha attacked a man in China as he washed his dog in a river, leaving deep lacerations in his hand and underscoring fears about illegal animal imports, reports said Tuesday.
The aggressive flesh-shearing fish that is native to South America latched onto the man’s hand Saturday in the Liujiang river, in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Hong Kong Cable News television reported.
The man, identified in media reports as 31-year-old Zhang Kaibo, shook the fish loose and took it home, where he kept it alive. A friend was also bitten when he tried to handle the sharp-toothed omnivore.
“I thought it was a pomfret fish but when I saw the teeth, I realized it was a piranha,” he told Cable News.
The importation of piranhas for exotic aquariums is banned in China and other Asian countries due to fears that the fish will enter local waterways and breed rapidly without predators.
Philippine police arrested five people for selling piranhas in December last year.
In February, a school of piranhas attacked tourists bathing in a river in southern Brazil, leaving about 20 people with bite wounds on their hands and feet.