It can be hard to go outside in Alaska, but some days it just takes more courage to leave the house.
Take last week, for example, when residents of Fairbanks reported seeing several terrifying foot-long eel-like fish scattered around town.
Four have been spotted throughout Fairbanks so far -- one was found squirming in the parking lot of a thrift store, while someone else found one in their lawn. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says they're adult Arctic lampreys and residents have nothing to worry about.
Arctic lampreys are mysterious parasitic fish native to Alaska, yet they are rarely seen or caught because they live primarily in the mud of rivers and tributaries throughout the state. The Department of Fish and Game suspects these ones were dropped by gulls who plucked them from the nearby Chena River, where the fish spawn.
Young Arctic lampreys are blind, and feed by filtering micro-organisms through the water. But as adults, they become parasites, attaching themselves to other species of fish or mammals by "using their sucking mouthparts" -- a jawless mouth full of teeth -- "to attach themselves to the host's body," the Department of Fish and Game explains.
Then they use their teeth to cut through their host's body for its blood and bodily fluid.
When lampreys feed off salmon, they can attain a fatty flavor, and -- believe it or not -- Arctic lampreys are a seasonal delicacy in Alaska. Chefs say they're best braised or roasted, praising their boneless cartilaginous structure for the way it melts away while cooking.
We'll take their word for it.