Why parrot Ara eat clay? Tell the secret of fascinating spectacle

Ara parrots from the rainforest Amazon in Peru very love to eat … clay. They are going in large quantities on the open shores of the river to peck the dirt, creating a dazzling spectacle that thousands of tourists come every year.

Parrots of Ara from the Tropical Amazon Forest Parrots of Ara from the Amazon Tropical Forest in Peru

But why these birds eat clay? One of the most popular theories is that they simply lack sodium in the diet. Sodium is important for many functions of the body, such as generation of nerve impulses, maintaining electrolyte balance, cardiac activity and some metabolic functions.

Ara parrots from the rainforest Amazon, Peru Parrots of Ara from the Tropical Forest Amazon, South America

Many herbivores whose diet is completely based on plants, need an additional salt, because plants do not contain a sufficient amount of salt. Therefore, animals often get sodium from solonts. Clay and soil are a good source of sodium, as well as many other nutrients such as potassium and magnesium.

Parrots of Ara from the rainforest Amazon in South America Parrots Ara, Tropical Forest Amazon Parrots Ara, Tropical Forests Amazon, Peru

Another theory is that birds eat clay to get rid of toxins. When they eat clay, clay particles are associated with toxins that occur in nature, such as chinin and tubyl acid, preventing their absorption of the gastrointestinal tract.

Why parrot Ara eat clay telling the secret of the fascinating spectacle

Parrots Ara, Tropical Amazon Forests in Peru Parrots Ara, Tropical Forests Amazons, South America

Nevertheless, studies show that sodium theory is more correct. Research Center Tambopata (TRC) in Peru studied clay and found that the soil that birds prefer to consume, do not have a higher level of cation exchange function, that is, the ability to absorb toxins.

Parrots of Ara, Tropical Amazon Forests in South America Parrot Ara, Peru Parrots Ara in Peru

The researchers observed how on one of the clay sites near the River Manu parrots actively eaten the lower layer of the soil, but the layer is avoided above. It was found that in a lower layer, sodium level is much higher than in the site that was above.

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