Flamingos are my favorite birds because of their bright pink feathers, s-shaped neck, and also because of some of their unique behavioral characteristics. But I recently learned that they could even drink hot boiling water. So, being curious just like you are right now, I did complete research on this topic, and here’s what I found. Can flamingos drink boiling water?
Flamingos can drink water at near boiling point. They live in lakes with high levels of alkalinity. Oftentimes, the boiling geysers are the only source of freshwater available to them, so they have adapted themselves to drink water that can reach the boiling point.
With that being said, let’s jump in deeper and discover more on why flamingos can drink boiling water and other cool facts about these awesome birds.
Note: If you are interested in learning more about flamingos, please don’t forget to check out my complete guide on flamingos here.
Why Can Flamingos Drink Boiling Water?
Flamingos are usually found in lakes with high alkalinity levels, such as the Lake Natron of Tanzania.
Just imagine that the water’s pH in this lake can be as high as 10.5. The lake’s water is so caustic that it can even burn animals’ eyes and skin that haven’t adapted themselves to such conditions.
I know you might be wondering why flamingos live in such extreme conditions? Well, the primary reason behind it is their diet.
Flamingos filter-feed on blue-green algae, brine shrimp, small insects, mollusks, etc. They are considered omnivores.
For instance, the Lesser Flamingos feed on spirulina, mainly growing in highly alkaline water bodies. Since Lake Natron contains high alkaline waters, they give the right conditions for this bacteria to grow.
Hence, every year many flamingos go there for feeding and breeding purposes.
Furthermore, flamingos live in such alkaline conditions not only because of their special dietary needs but also because it acts as a natural buffer.
Since conditions are so harsh in alkaline lakes where flamingos generally live, most flora and fauna can’t live there. As a result, this provides an amazing opportunity for flamingos to live safely without the fear of predators.
Note that flamingos don’t receive all the water required for their body just from their diet. And hence, they have to drink large amounts of freshwater daily to keep their biological body functions running.
Since they usually live in highly alkaline waters, they have to fly around to find freshwater resources. And the problem is, the only access to freshwater that flamingos can get is often boiling geysers.
Thus, since they have no other choice, they have adapted to drinking water that can approach boiling point.
Moreover, not only can they drink hot water, but they can also stand in it. They have special tough skin and scales on their legs that prevent them from getting burned.
By the way, if you have noticed a flamingo, their skinny legs might have grabbed your attention. But do you know why they have such legs? Are you interested to know? Then I would highly recommend you check out my article about why flamingos have skinny legs here.
How Do Flamingos Drink Water?
Flamingos have to breathe in air, and so when they go underwater, they hold their breath while searching for food.
They are capable of holding their breath for several minutes, and they can go back again to take a quick breath and then again go underwater, and they can keep on doing this process continuously.
And the surprising thing is this process occurs fast enough that you can’t realize that they are coming up the water to take a quick breath.
Now flamingos also have an interesting tongue that can be compared with a piston in a vehicle. This tongue is what allows the flamingos to intake food and water so that their filtration system can start to function.
Remember that flamingos don’t dive for food, and because of their long legs, flamingos can move into deeper waters in the search for food.
Have you ever wondered how the long legs of flamingos are protected? Then, I recommend you to read my article on what are flamingo’s legs protected by, where I explain it in detail.
Can Flamingos Drink Salt Water?
Yes, they can even drink salt water! If no freshwater resource is available to flamingos, they can even consume salt, alkaline water.
They have salt glands in their head whose function is to remove salt, drain it out from their nasal cavity, and allow the passage of clean water to the rest of their body.
Because of their high-salt diet, Flamingos tend to lose water and have greater salt uptake.
One of the ways in which these birds do osmoregulation is by using the salt gland.
When flamingos consume salt, the osmolarity in their blood increases. As a result, water moves out of the cells and, in turn, causes an increased amount of extracellular fluids. All these processes activate their salt glands.
However, before any activity can occur in the salt gland, the kidney is supposed to reabsorb the ingested sodium.
One noteworthy point is though flamingos, like other marine birds, have a saline intake, still, the Glomular Filtration Rate (GFR) remains unchanged. The reason behind it is their salt glands.
In short, flamingos can drink water that can approach the boiling level mainly because they have adapted themselves to drink such hot water. Moreover, they can also drink salt water because they have special salt glands. So that’s it! Thanks!
Now, I know you are a flamingo fan, and so you might be interested in how to interact with them, right? Well, luckily, I have an in-depth guide for you on human interaction with flamingos.
And wait, I have more articles on flamingos for you which you might be interested in to have a look at: