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Q: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode? ( No Answer,   8 Comments )
Subject: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: pull_the_trig-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 14 Jun 2003 16:01 PDT
Expires: 14 Jul 2003 16:01 PDT
Question ID: 217385
I have always heard that Alka-Selzer makes Seagulls explode. However, says this is a myth. Is there any proof like a photo or
video of this actually being the case?

Prove or disprove that feeding Alka-Seltzer to a seagull makes them
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 14 Jun 2003 16:21 PDT
It's very difficult to prove that something cannot happen, but I think
Snopes is correct in debunking the exploding-gull story.

Here's a copy of a letter in which the manufacturers of Alka-Seltzer
say that their product does not have seagull-exploding properties:

More on the matter:

A friend of mine who lives in Corpus Christi tried to feed
Alka-Seltzer to seagulls a few years ago (in the name of science.) My
friend reported that the gulls did not want to eat the plain tablets
(I would think that, to a bird, they look like flat little rocks,) so
my friend wrapped the Alka-Seltzer in Wonder Bread and glommed the
bread down tightly around the tabs.

The gulls grabbed the bread-wrapped tablets, gulped them down, and a
moment later, barfed them up again. No explosions, unless vomiting
counts as an explosion.

Considering how easy it is to concoct a Photoshopped fake, I would be
very skeptical of any images that claim to show a seagull bursting
from effervescent antacid intake.
Subject: Re: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
From: knowledge_seeker-ga on 14 Jun 2003 16:47 PDT
Urban Legend. 

Think logically. 

In order for a seagull to explode, 2 things would have to occur.
First, the bird would have to have no ability to release the gas
formed by the alka seltzer.  We know this isn't true, since birds
(including seagulls) do have the ability to "burp" to let off excess
gas in the upper digestive tract. They can also regurgitate food if it
doesn't agree with them.

Second, even if they couldn't burp, the gas from a SINGLE alka seltzer
would have to expand strong enough and fast enough to blow open the
digestive system of the bird AND forcefully explode his whole body.
C'mon... really! If alka seltzers had that kind of power, I don't
think any of us would be taking them.

Finally, why seagulls? They are just another bird. If it were true,
don't you think we'd be hearing about exploding pelicans, ducks,
pigeons, chickens, or what have you?

No, this is like the duck's quack not echoing. It's one of those
things that people love to believe, even though it has no basis in



PS -  Not posted as an answer because it isn't proof or disproof. It's
just plain sense.
Subject: Re: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
From: magnesium-ga on 14 Jun 2003 19:54 PDT
What an odd mythconception. If it were true that this substance would
cause gulls to explode, I would think that people who view gulls as
nuisance birds would use Alka Seltzer as a pest control device. ;)
Subject: Re: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
From: pull_the_trig-ga on 14 Jun 2003 20:52 PDT
I have just heard and read many "firsthand" accounts of people seeing
this, doing this or knowing someone who has. It is also part of
useless facts lists.
Subject: Re: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
From: chellphill-ga on 14 Jun 2003 21:50 PDT
An amusing web site about the topic of feeding birds Alka-Seltzer and
""The birds have no means to pass gas orally or ventrally," Wayne
writes, "so they just go in a burst of feathers!" Uh-huh. Wayne is
hereby named High Commissioner of Experimental Alka-Seltzer Seagull
Feeding. I expect a full report."
" At U.S. Air Force survival school in Spokane, Washington, students
are told to drop Alka-Seltzer into wading pools in order to secure an
easy lunch of seagull, says Brian Bourke. Many pilots carry
Alka-Seltzer with them on sorties for this reason."
" Ex-serviceman Allen Greiner reports that while stationed on the Gulf
Coast, he and his friends used to entertain themselves by tossing
Alka-Seltzer to circling seagulls, who would catch the tablets in
mid-air. If the gull succeeded in swallowing the Alka-Seltzer, it
would falter after a short time, foam at the beak, then projectile
vomit its stomach contents. Afterward the bird would be as healthy as
ever. Bet this comes as a surprise to downed pilots tossing
Alka-Seltzer in wading pools"
"While we're on the subject of exploding birds, rice, and
Alka-Seltzer, perhaps you'll tackle another one, if it has not yet
been resolved in the annals of science. I remember faintly from early
childhood that if you give a frog a cigarette, it will continuously
inhale until it explodes, a rather graphic example of the perils of
smoking. --Peter Kreutlein

Cecil replies:

Peter, I'm counting to three. If you're not of here by then, there's
going to be an explosion. And it won't be the frog."
Subject: Re: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
From: pull_the_trig-ga on 15 Jun 2003 09:15 PDT
As far as dehydrated rice goes, you take 1 mL of rice and 1mL of water
and end up with 2 mL of hydrated rice. The total volume of in the
reactor, ie stomach, or pot, has remained practically constant. So
rice does expand, but only absorbs the volume of water that was
already there.

Alka-Selzer actually produces CO2 gas so if a seagull's burp/vomit was
malfunctioning, who knows what could happen.
Subject: Re: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 15 Jun 2003 09:20 PDT
It would be interesting to experiment with a balloon to see whether
Alka-Seltzer causes a huge, sudden rush of gas such as would be
required in order to explode a bird. Having watched Alka-Seltzer
fizzing mildly in a glass, somehow I doubt it.

I used to have a parakeet who enjoyed sipping my homemade root beer.
It was very bubbly. He never exploded. ;-)
Subject: Re: Alka-Seltzer makes Seagulls Explode?
From: owain-ga on 15 Jun 2003 13:30 PDT
Exploding birds was discussed on uk.d-i-y with reference to pigeons.
Two postings included:

I have been told (but have never tried it myself) that calcium carbide
wrapped in bread works quite well. Apparently when it makes contact
with stomach juices the acetylene gas liberated blows up the pigeon.

Magnesium silicide (Mg2Si) should be better.  When that comes into
contact with acid, it reacts to form silane (SiH4) ^ and magnesium
oxide.  Silane spontaneously combusts in the presence of oxygen, such
that found in the small pocket of fundic air in the stomach...

Googlegroups uk.d-i-y pigeon problem for the full thread.


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