How Diet Effects Flamingos and Frogs

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 19th Dec 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Science>Biology>Animal Biology

We often hear the phase “You Are What You Eat” as it relates to being healthy, but this phrase in the animal kingdom, particularly with Flamingos and Frogs, is even more true to their nature.


Flamingos are best known as a pink bird. One should be aware though that these birds are not pink by nature or design, rather than by what they eat. When flamingos feast on shrimp (and other things) their color becomes bright pink, but it is not the shrimp that directly cause the color of these birds, rather something the shrimp have been eating.

A dull colored flamingo is typically ill, underfed, or has been eating a different diet (as when kept in captivity). Flamingos become superbly colored as the result of the bacteria, alpha, and beta carotenes, in their correct diet, which may include shrimp, prawns, and plankton. In fact it is the plankton – specifically blue green algae which give the birds their color.

Flamingos who eat more of the blue green algae are darker, with some color also coming indirectly through the algae when they eat other animals (shrimp) that have eaten the algae themselves.

photo source


Frogs, and specifically those commonly known as Poison Dart, or Poison Arrow, frogs (Dendrobates) are also influenced by what they eat. These frogs are best known for having a toxin on their skin that can be used to poison the arrow tips of darts and then used for hunting and bringing down rather large game.

For the longest time nobody was really certain where these toxins came from, however their bright colors attracted the interest of the pet trade. Keepers of these exotic pets soon found (and don't ask me how) that captive frogs tended to lose their toxicity, with some species becoming virtually non-toxic. As such the hobby keepers suggested that the frogs gained their toxins primarily by eating toxic bugs, centipedes, ants, and so forth, since in the pet trade they are primarily fed young crickets, and have been noted to be less toxic.

photo source

Other Links on Nature

Pretty in Pink

Pretty Poison - Dendrobatidae Frogs

Spotted Animals

Facts about the Takin

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Arrow, Biology, Color, Dart, Diet, Flamingo, Frog, Frogs, How, Nature, Pink, Poison, Shrimp, What You Eat

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar christopheranton
19th Dec 2010 (#)

Very interesting.
I guess the phrase "in the pink" to describe someone who is in the
peak of health
must come from flamingoes.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
19th Dec 2010 (#)

Another very informative article Mark. Very interesting read.

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author avatar zed
19th Dec 2010 (#)

oh wow! never knew about these. indeed interesting :)

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author avatar Denise O
19th Dec 2010 (#)

Mark, I have to say this is one of the most fascinating articles I have read. I never knew that flamingos got their color by what they eat.
And the frogs, very interesting.
I guess you can say...
those two are what they eat, that's for sure.
Good work. I was truely entertained.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar James R. Coffey
19th Dec 2010 (#)


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author avatar Paul Lines
19th Dec 2010 (#)

Another good article Mark

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author avatar Carol
19th Dec 2010 (#)

great article Mark

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author avatar ppruel
20th Dec 2010 (#)

Informative and educative one! Great...

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author avatar urguide
16th Jan 2011 (#)

Very informative

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author avatar Retired
15th Mar 2015 (#)

i saw some flamingos just the other day at the zoo and they were very brightly colored. They must be feeding them what they need. I never knew toxic frogs could lose their toxicity. Thanks.

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