Candirú, also known as the toothpick fish, or the vampire fish, or the pencil fish, is the fish that swims into your pee hole. Don’t trust? Google any of those names above. As you’ll undoubtedly see hundreds of pages talking about this thin, translucent fish, you can also see its awful habit of swimming up a stream of urine and lodging itself into the urethra of an unfortunate woman or man.
There have been many stories roaming around the internet of men being the major target. There is a great belief that this perhaps makes sense as men have a significantly longer urethra than women. Although we are lucky that the fish can’t do this, this hasn’t stopped people claiming it can and often does. One of the early accounts of this was in the year 1855 when Francis de Castelnau stated what a South American fisherman told him. He was standing outside the water not to pee because the fish might spring out of the water and will then penetrate the urethra by ascending its length.
If you think this makes sense, not only would the fish have to stay entirely within the stream of urine, battling against both the gravity and the force of falling water, but it’d also need the stream to remain intact for the entire journey.
Getting back to the question
But the question still stands; where did this rumor generate? While there are references of this as far back as 1829, the myth saw its most significant surge in popularity in 1930 – a big thanks to a book written in the 1930s called “The Candirú” by a Dr. Eugene Gudger. In this book, Dr. Gudger has recounted old tales from South America, even though said tales were mere third-hand accounts of the stories, and no person interviewed had actually witnessed this.
It should be noted that Dr. Gudger was skeptical that this fish could actually do what natives said it could, as we can find about this in an article he wrote in 1930. But as we can see that in terms of the tales themselves, it’s mostly believed these were exaggerated.
In one case, surgery to remove the fish was not only widely covered by photography and film. In this case, the victim claimed that the Candirú jumped out of the water and came into his urethra. This happened when he was standing up to his knees in the water while urinating.
However, indeed, the stories involving these weird survival injuries are often quoted even today in shows. However, still, the corpse of the fish itself was never officially recognized as a Candirú, and medical opinion from doctors not trying to get on TV makes it even clear that maybe this story is a hoax. So we can conclude that this theory seems to be more of a myth since it is indeed impossible for a fish to enter the human body. Because if this is to happen, then the fish would have to propel itself with some pretty fantastic force…