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Single piranha in water.
Piranhas can become more aggressive during breeding season when they defend their nests (Picture: Getty)

The bodies of four swimmers have been recovered with horrific piranha bites in Paraguay.

A 22-year-old man was swimming in the Paraguay river, south of the capital Asuncion, when his family reportedly saw him disappear from view.

His body was found 45 minutes later with his limbs badly bitten by piranhas.

On Monday, a 49-year-old man was found floating in the same river near the town of Puerto Rosario.

Doctors confirmed he died by drowning but revealed there were piranha bites on his face and feet, La Nacion reports.

Two other people were found dead with piranha bites on their bodies in the Tebicuary river last Sunday.

There have also been reports of non-fatal attacks, with a dozen swimmers bitten on New Year’s Day at the Bella Vista swimming club in Itapua.

Four dead and 20 injured in piranha attacks Tebicuary river Picture: Google Maps metrograb
The bodies of two swimmers were recovered from the Tebicuary river (Picture: Google)

Piranhas do not usually attack humans, but the reported incidents have come during breeding season, running from October to March, when they tend to be more aggressive.

Biologist Julio Capli warned swimmers in the area not to enter waters with submerged or floating plants.

This is where piranhas have their nests and are ready to attack to protect their eggs and young, he told ABC.

If a piranha does bite, Mr Capri said they will usually target lower limbs and they do not jump, unlike in horror movies.

Swimmers who do feel bites should get out of the water immediately and try not to alarm other people.

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