May 18

Wild animals don’t need salt?


Many pet owners will no doubt have this question – why can’t salt in dog and cat food, and do wildlife need to eat salt just like humans?

This is quite an interesting question and it is also true that veterinarians will tell us that animals cannot eat a high-salt diet for as long as humans, as this will damage their kidneys. them. But in fact, it sounds strange, but most wild animals suffer from “salt thirst”. Humans will be thirsty if lack of water, will be hungry if lack of food, but do not feel thirst for salt, instead we will have a physiological reaction of lack of sodium ions such as general weakness.

Salt thirst in animals is like hunger and thirst, is a very strong physiological need, when not satisfied, it will also be uncomfortable and painful. So when adventurers get lost in the wilderness and can’t find a source of water, the experienced people, when they find monkeys around, will take out salt bars from their pockets to Enter the area where the monkeys are active and make a small trap.

When the monkeys eat all the salt, they are also trapped and they will leave the monkey there until it becomes unbearably thirsty, then release them. Immediately they will run away and now they just have to chase the monkeys and will find the source of water.

Among our primates, only humans do not have a sense of “thirst for salt”. For example, monkeys often brush each other’s fur and stuff things in their mouths. Many say they are catching lice. Reality is not so. In most cases, they are picking up salt particles from the bodies of the monkeys around to eat, which is the salt particles left after the sweat has evaporated.

Do you think the monkey is a bit disgusting doing this? Yes, wild animals will do anything to get salt, and the methods of wildlife salt collection mentioned below are far more interesting. Be mentally prepared for that.

Salt is used to meet the animal’s needs for Na and Cl. Sodium and chlorine are major electrolytes that contribute to the maintenance of membrane electrochemical gradients (known as membrane potentials). They are also involved in digestion (HCl in the stomach), absorption (Na) and transport of nutrients from the intestines into the bloodstream. They also contribute to the maintenance of blood volume and blood pressure, and participate in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.

Eat the earth

In fact, soil is a natural source of minerals, many types of soil contain minerals that are rich in salt, so many cattle, sheep, and red deer have the habit of licking natural salt mines. And the macaws of the Amazon rainforest have a “treasure” passed down from generation to generation, each year when they breed, they have to dig from the mounds there and search for salt to eat, if not enough. With this natural source of mineral salts, birds will be stunted due to lack of trace elements.

Eat poop

For humans, eating poop is really a confusing behavior, but from the perspective of the animal kingdom, not eating poop would certainly be an act of aliens. This is because a single digestion often does not absorb all the nutrients in it, especially for herbivores. Under natural conditions, the days with nothing to eat are very continuous. As a result, most herbivores are able to re-eat manure, and they can more thoroughly absorb inorganic plant salts from manure.


Whether they are animals or herbivores, they will eat carrion, although it is a bit rare, but in fact, there have been many times when scientists have recorded cases of herbivores eating carcasses of animals. other animals. From small deer sucking bones from the corpses of their own kind or thousands of beautiful butterflies perched on the corpse of a decomposing animal. In fact, decomposing animal carcasses outside the natural environment are rare and rich in salt resources.

For carnivores, the meat of their prey contains salt that they naturally accumulate, so it is easier for them to absorb salt than herbivores. But in fact, salt still has a great temptation for them. Some zoologists have experimented with providing cotton wool soaked in salt water, cotton wool soaked in water and cotton wool soaked in sugar water in the rainforest. Unlike one might expect, all ants are attracted to cotton wool soaked in salt water. This is contrary to what we think, because we often find that the ants around our house are always attracted to sweets.

Saline cotton balls (left), wet cotton balls (middle), sugar cotton balls (right).

In summary, both animals and humans need sodium and potassium ions, but because humans have mastered the method of obtaining salt very early, a long-term high-salt diet has changed our bodies and make us not feel thirsty for salt like wild animals. Humans have a very strong tolerance to salt, and many people even have an appetite when eating salty foods.


animals, salt

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