A water company has pleaded with householders not to flush exotic animals down the toilet after a piranha fish was discovered in a sewer in Chichester.
The flesh-eating creature was found by a startled member of staff at Southern Water who was carrying out checks at the West Sussex treatment works.
The South-American river predator, which normally hunt in packs, can rip flesh to shreds in a matter of seconds.
Although the newly discovered piranha was dead and posed no threat, having most likely been flushed away after dying naturally in its tank, water bosses said that only ‘p’s that should go down the toilet were ‘pee, poo and paper.’
Southern Water spokeswoman Nicola Crichton said: “Obviously someone who owns exotic animals must have flushed it down the toilet, I don’t think it managed to migrate all this way.
“People will flush anything down their toilets, we once found a bed sheet at the waterworks, and find all sorts of strange things.”
Indigenous to the Amazonian basin, the piranha is a freshwater fish which can range in size from 5in to 20in depending on the species.
They have been characterised in films and the media as extremely predatory due to their powerful jaws and feeding frenzies but in fact are omnivorous and pose a relatively low threat to humans.
Strange animals living in the sewers have been a part of urban legends since modern drainage began. There have been tales and anecdotes about alligators living the sewers of New York since the New York Times ran a story in 1935 claiming youngsters shovelling snow had found a creature writhing in a storm drain and dragged it out.
New Yorkers are now so proud of legend that on February 9th they celebrate ‘Alligators in Sewers Day’.
In 2008, the Eastbourne Herald reported that sewer workers at Southern Water’s treatment plant in Eastbourne, East Sussex, claimed to have seen a strange humanoid shadow in the underground passages, which would follow staff.
They also reported muffled conversations emanating from behind the tunnel walls.
And in the 1800s, a strange story circulated around London that the sewers of Hampstead were home to a population of black pigs. It was claimed that a pregnant sow had fallen into a drain and been unable to find its way out.
On the 10th October 1989, The Daily Telegraph reported that ‘the Hampstead sewers shelter a monstrous breed of black swine, which have propagated and run wild among the slimy feculence, and whose ferocious snouts will one day up-root Highgate archway, while they make Holloway intolerable with their grunting.”
Speaking of the latest sewer dweller, Southern Water communications officer Simon Fluendy said: “Our campaigns normally focus on stopping people flushing plastic-based materials such as wet wipes, sanitary products, condoms and nappies down the toilet.
“There’s only the three Ps which should go down the loo – pee, poo and paper. Piranhas are not one of them.
“We like to make it clear, we do not believe that there is any risk of shoals of piranhas swimming around our sewers – this would be highly unusual.
“We would like to reassure our 4.6 million customers that it is safe to use their toilets as normal.”
Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/29/piranha-fish-found-chichester-sewer-water-company-pleads-flush/