Can Flamingos Drink Salt Water?

flamingos drinking salt water
Group of Flamingos Drinking Water in Bolivia - Photo byTheresaSchmitt/

So, we’ve learned that flamingos can do some pretty ridiculous and miraculous things, like drink near-boiling water and sleep on one leg. But how absurd can it get? Can flamingos drink salt water?

Based on the fact that we’re even asking a question this absurd, you can probably guess the answer.

Can Flamingos Drink Salt Water?

Yes, flamingos can drink salt water. No, I’m not kidding. And no, that doesn’t mean you can drink salt water, too.

Flamingos are truly lovers of the water, so much so that they don’t discriminate between temperature or type. They can dunk their heads fully under water that’s almost boiling and take a swig whenever they’d like, and they don’t even have to care if said unbelievably-hot water is loaded with salt.

How is it possible for flamingos to pull off this insane feat? It’s because the bird has a unique gland in its nose that’s found in seabirds that can sort out the salt, leaving behind fresh, potable water for it to enjoy, even if it’s hot enough to make a box of pasta.

flamingos drinking water in aruba
Flamingos in Aruba - Photo by Anhilator/

After the gland filters through the water, flamingos drain the unwanted parts through their nose. This means that if a flamingo wants to, it can soak up some water that’s hot enough to burn you and shoot it through their nostrils. You would be wise to not upset a flamingo.

That Sounds Fun, Why Can’t I Do That?

Because you’re a useless human who can’t do cool stuff like shoot boiling water from your nose.

If you tried to drink salt water - and I mean really drink salt water, like take a glass full and get it all down - you would become more dehydrated than you’ve ever been before and could be life threatening.

“Seawater is four times saltier than blood,” Dr. Christanne Coffey, an assistant clinical professor at UC San Diego’s department of emergency medicine and director of the school’s wilderness medicine fellowship program, told Ellen Gutoskey of in May. “If you were to drink saltwater, this huge increase in salt would [shift] the water that we need inside our cells to the blood, which quickly affects our brain functioning and can hasten death.”

That feels like a clear message to me. As much as we all love our flamingo friends and love to emulate their elegance and grace, drinking salt water is something that should be left to the professionals.