Eels are very long, narrow fish which can grow over a metre in length. Eels look smooth and lack the obvious scales and gills of other fish. They can be found in rivers and ditches but leave the freshwater to breed at sea, in an area of the west Atlantic called the Sargasso Sea. Young eels (known as ‘elvers’) return to freshwater rivers to develop. Eels are predators and scavengers, feeding on dead animals, fish eggs, invertebrates and other fish.
The eel is the most common snake-like freshwater fish. A group of bizarre fish called lampreys look similar but have large sucker-like mouths and no pectoral fins. Eels range in colour above, from silver to olive-green, and have yellow bellies.
Length: up to 1m Weight: 0.5-1.5kg Average Lifespan: 15-70 years
Classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Found throughout the country.
When to see
January – December
Eels are able to survive out of water for quite a long time and may crawl through wet grass to reach water.