Could an organism use static electricity as a weapon or defense mechanism? How would they generate the charge? How would they use the charge? Would it be able to kill or stun anything? What environment would it live in?

The first thing I thought of when I was typing this question is a big, fluffy, sea urchin.

Other than that i'm not sure what else to put here, though please make this at-least a tiny bit realistic. (No magic and such)

  • $\begingroup$ Lightning is static electricity. $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2021 at 2:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I use static electricity to assert my superiority over household cats. I'm going to walk barefoot through this thick carpet, and then zap fluffy out of MY chair. Of course, she knows where I sleep, so she might seek terrible revenge. On second thought, maybe detente is better. I should go find my slippers. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Sep 20, 2021 at 2:24

1 Answer 1


As soon as you shock or stun something with it, it ain't "static" anymore. And if that's what you're going to use it for, there's really not much point in keeping a big static charge around--just do what electric fish do, and generate the charge on-demand, with electrocyte organs.

A land creature that wants to use electricity as a weapon would have more methods of charge generation available to it than fish do; they could, for example, actually use the "rubbing something fluffy" method, which I imagine is where you get your image fluffy urchin from. But electric defense turns out not to be a particularly good idea for terrestrial creatures; there's a reason it only shows up in fish in the real world! Specifically, using electricity as a weapon depends on being able to direct the flow of that electricity outside of one's own body--and that's a lot harder to do in air than in water. An electric eel that tried to hunt on land would just end up shocking itself. (Of course, they actually do shock themselves, even in the water, but their shocks are tuned to put enough energy into the water to be useful without causing damage to the eel with the residual--in air, that coupling is much less effective, and the energy would all flow through the eel's body instead.) Notice that, when you get a static charge on your body, and end up shocking something, you get shocked too.

That said, there are creatures that use static electricity, but not as a weapon. Some spiders make use of the Earth's ambient electric field gradient to levitate on charged strands of web, and bees have hairs that allow them to detect and respond to the static electric fields of flowers--which change in response to the visits of those same bees and other insects.


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