Moray Eel Bite: Why you should avoid it? Causes & Treatment

The moray eel is considered the largest of the eel fish species. There as many as 200 different species of moray eels that can be found in marine, fresh and brackish water. Because they prefer warmer waters, they are most commonly found in shallow areas just near coral reefs. There are some people who capture the eels either to keep them in aquarium or for other commercial purposes. The fish have also been introduced in aquarium hobby and many aquarists keep them in their aquariums at their homes. Even though moray eels have bodies that are slender and long resembling that of snakes, they actually belong to the fish family. Extra care must be taken at all times when dealing with the fish because they can get aggressive and bite. Moray eel bite is usually painful and can cause the victim secondary infection if proper wound care is not instituted.

Moray Eel Bite

Moray eels often bite people when they feel threatened or hungry. If a moray eel bites you, you must wash the wound immediately with fresh water, and seek medical care.  You will have to take antibiotics and painkillers, and if you leave the wound untreated, it could result in paralysis.

What you need to know about the Moray Eel

Indeed the prospect of keeping Moray eel in your very own aquarium at home can seem very interesting to you. You however need to know that these fish can easily snap on your fingers if you attempt to hold them with your bare hands especially when feeding them. It is best to therefore learn about some tips and tricks of preventing and treating any bites that may come from the fish.

The moray eels are known to be a sedentary type of fish that prefer to keep their lower extremities burrowed in deep sections of the water, especially in crevices and keeping their head out. The fish are known to ambush their unsuspecting prey pray by hiding in crevices and then using their fearsome teeth to hold their prey tightly. They are avid carnivorous who are known to feed on small fish, crustaceans, mollusks, small octopuses, cuttlefish, and crabs.

Are they poisonous?

Many people usually ask to know if moray eel bite is potentially poisonous perhaps due to their frightening appearance and the sharp teeth that they exhibit. Indeed bites from the fish are usually very painful. People who have been bitten by the fish claim that their bite is much more painful than that of other predatory fish. The bite can particularly be painful due to the “pull back pattern” that the fish’s teeth are arranged in the mouth. Again if the wound is not properly cleaned and disinfected it is likely that bacteria will cause much havoc on the wound and male the victim feel lots of pain.

Now to main point as to whether moray eel bite is poisonous and the answer to this question is that indeed the bite is poisonous. Basically the fish has got a toxin on the slime coat on their skin as well as the mucous found in their mouths. Of the toxins is hemagglutinin. It is a glycoprotein that is known to cause the red blood cells to clump. There is another toxin that is found in the mucous of the fish that is heamolytic. The toxin destroys red blood cells and there people need to avoid being bitten by the moray eels at all costs.

What is a Moray Eel bite?

moray eel bite

It is not common for moray eels to attack people but this can change if you happen to dive in waters where they hide. The fish are considered not to be aggressive but have been found to attack when they feel threatened or when they are hungry and looking for something to eat.

Instances when the moray eels have attacked people are when they attempt to fee the ones they have in aquarium using their bare hands. By attempting to feed the eel directly in the tank with your hand you put yourself at risk of being bitten. A bite from the fish may cause severe laceration on the victim or ultimately the person may even lose a finger!

When there is a severe case of bite from the fish, immediate medical attention should be instituted right away without any further delay. Treating a bite usually involves washing the wound, using medication on the wound i.e. topical antibiotics as well as painkillers.

When can you get a moray eel bite?

  • Anybody who exposes himself/herself to the fish is vulnerable to being bitten by the moray eel.
  • When attempting to feed the fish in your aquarium using your finger and placing it too close to the mouth.
  • Snorkelers and divers who dive deep in the ocean where the fish hides.

What happens when you get bitten by the moray eel?

Basically the bigger the moray eel, the higher is the possibility of suffering severe injury from a bite. Here below is a roundup of the symptoms of a moray eel bite:

  • Cuts, bruises, lacerations, gashes occurring on the bitten area
  • Wounds with blood oozing out
  • Pain that in most cases may be really severe
  • Temporary paralysis of the bitten arm or finger

Diagnosis of the moray eel bite

If you suspect having suffered from a bite from the moray eel then the following method will follow your diagnosis:

  • The medic will make a physical examination of the bitten wound
  • You will be asked by the medic to give a rough explanation of what transpired that led to you being bitten
  • X-ray or CT scans of the affected area may be performed
  • Blood test including a complete blood count will be conducted as well

Treatment of a bite from the Moray eel

The treatment for a moray eel bite if not serious usually involves proper wound care that includes washing the wound thoroughly with antiseptic. The doctor may then apply antibiotics on the open wound then dress the wound with a bandage. To help the victim feel less pain, the doctor may prescribe painkillers. Once the wound has properly healed the patient may then go back to the doctor to have the dressing removed and examined before being allowed to leave.

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