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January 1, 1999

Animals become victims of salt poisoning or toxicosis when toxic levels of sodium and chloride accumulate in the blood after they ingest large amounts of salt or, in some species, are deprived of water. For birds, salt sources may include saline water and road salt.

Normally, the salt glands of birds (Fig. 47.1) excrete sodium and chloride to maintain the proper physiologic chemical balance. However, when there has been insufficient time for acclimation of the salt gland to the saline environment, or when salt gland function is compromised by exposure to certain pesticides or oil, the electrolyte balance of the blood may be upset by the excess sodium and chloride, resulting in toxicosis. Salt accumulation on the outside of the body, or salt encrustation, is a greater problem for waterbirds that use very saline waters than is salt toxicosis. Salt encrustation can lead to exertion, acute muscle degeneration, and eventual drowning during the struggle to escape entrapment.

Publication Year 1999
Title Salt
Authors J. C. Franson, M. Friend
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Information and Technology Report
Series Number 1999-0001
Index ID 2001119
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center