Since they live in the hot, dry desert, camels don’t get as many opportunities to drink water as most other animals do.
They make up for this by consuming huge amounts of water when they do get the chance!
Camels can drink about one-third of their body weight, around 30 gallons of water, in a single sitting. Some sources state that camels can drink as much as 53 gallons of water at once. These large amounts of water are stored in the camels’ digestive and circulatory systems; they have oval-shaped red blood cells that double in size when hydrated.
Continue reading to learn about the amount of water a camel drinks in one sitting, where camels get hydration, and how long camels can go without water.
How Much Water Can Camels Drink In One Sitting?
Camels can drink large amounts of water in a single sitting. However, sources disagree on exactly how much water a camel can drink at once.
For example, the Library of Congress states that camels can drink as much as 20 gallons of water at a time.
Meanwhile, West Texas A&M University reports that a camel can drink 53 gallons of water in the span of just three minutes.
Britannica says that camels can drink up to 30 gallons in one sitting.
Cleveland Zoo Society backs this up and says camels can drink 30 gallons in just ten minutes. San Diego Zoo shares a similar number of 32 gallons as well.
The quantity of water a camel can drink at once is dependent on its size, which can explain some of the variation between sources.
Dromedary camels, which have one hump, tend to be lighter than Bactrian camels, which have two humps, so it makes sense that Bactrian camels could drink more than dromedaries.
It’s thought that camels can drink one-third of their body weight in water on average in a single sitting.
If you’ve never seen camels drinking water before, you might assume that they lap it up as a cat or dog does. In reality, camels submerge their mouths in the water and gulp it down in large amounts.
You can see camels drinking water about one minute and twenty seconds into this video, which discusses camels’ many adaptations that enable them to go without water for long periods of time.
How The Water Is Stored
Camels process large amounts of water by storing it in their digestive and circulatory systems.
Much of the water a camel drinks remains in its gut for a full 24 hours. It’s slowly processed by the body to avoid diluting the blood.
Unlike most mammals, which have round red blood cells, camels have oval-shaped red blood cells that can double in size upon hydration.
Although many people mistakenly believe that camels store water in their humps, this is a misconception; they actually store fat.
Where Do Camels Get Hydration?
Camels get hydration from water when they have a chance to drink it. They also consume moisture through their diet, which primarily consists of plants.
Considered to be herbivores, camels mainly eat grains, grass, oats, and wheat. They have rough lips and tongues that allow them to eat plants with thorns that other animals cannot consume.
Aside from the occasional large drink of water, camels get moisture from the plants they eat.
Camels can get by without much hydration because they have many adaptations that have left them with a reduced need for water.
For example, their noses work as dehumidifiers so that they don’t lose water vapor when they exhale.
A camel’s waste is also extremely concentrated so no extra water is lost through its urine or feces, and camels rarely sweat.
Compared to cows, it takes camels three times as long to lose water, showing just how well-adapted they are to their desert habitat.
How Long Can Camels Go Without Water?
How long camels can go without water depends on the climate and conditions.
During the summer or in especially hot conditions, camels can typically go five to ten days without water, but this study showed that the longest a camel had gone without water in the summer was 17 days.
But in the cooler seasons and milder climates, camels can survive for several months without water.
When they’re not consuming water, camels can lose up to one-third of their body weight from dehydration. Meanwhile, most mammals would die before losing even half this amount of water.
Camels can drink around 30 gallons of water at once, but the exact amount they can drink is dependent on their size. Most camels can drink one-third of their body weight in a single sitting.
This water is then stored in the digestive and circulatory systems. Camels hold much of their water in their gut for up to 24 hours to avoid diluting their blood. They also have oval-shaped red blood cells that can double in size after drinking large amounts of water.
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