An interesting fact about camels is that they release very little moisture from their bodies, whether that be in the form of sweat, urine, feces, or even exhaled water vapor.
You may be curious about the reasons why camels don’t produce much of these waste products.
Camels don’t produce much sweat or urine because they’ve adapted to living in dry environments where they must conserve as much hydration as possible. They don’t sweat much, and their urine is very concentrated to prevent unnecessary water loss. Some of the camels’ other adaptations with a similar purpose include their humps, dehumidifying noses, insulating fur, and oval-shaped blood cells.
Continue reading to learn more about why camels don’t tend to sweat or urinate very much.
You’ll also discover several other adaptations that help camels conserve as much of their hydration as possible.
Why Camels Don’t Sweat Or Urinate Much
Camels have many adaptations to prevent water loss so that they stay healthy and hydrated, even in the hot, dry environment of the desert.
Since water isn’t readily available, it’s important for camels to conserve their hydration as much as possible, rather than losing water through sweat and waste.
Therefore, the conservation of water and hydration is the reason why camels don’t sweat or urinate much.
Check out the video below for a quick overview of the ways that camels conserve water.
How Camels Sweat
Interestingly, because camels’ fur always stays dry to the touch, it was long thought that camels didn’t sweat at all.
However, this is not true. Camels have sweat glands distributed over most areas of their bodies.
Usually, when animals sweat, the moisture evaporates from the tips of their fur. For camels, it’s a little different.
Their sweat evaporates directly from their skin, which is why their fur always feels dry to the touch.
Because the sweat evaporates from the skin rather than the fur, it creates a cooling effect that results in better thermoregulation for camels.
This is highly effective and requires less energy than the typical method of sweating.
Camel urine and feces are also quite different from the waste of other animals.
Camels’ kidneys are highly adapted to prevent excess water loss. The kidney cells contain a decreased level of cholesterol, which enables camels to produce concentrated waste with almost no water in it.
Their urine has a consistency that is less like water and more like thick syrup.
Meanwhile, camel feces is so dry that you can use it as a fire starter.
Other Camel Adaptations To Prevent Dehydration
Not only do camels produce very little sweat and urine, but they have many other adaptations that reduce water loss and keep them hydrated.
They Store Fat In Their Humps
Although camels’ humps store fat and not water, as is often assumed, their humps do help them conserve water in a way.
When a camel doesn’t have access to fresh water or sustenance, it can break down the fat in its hump (or humps) and convert it into hydration and energy.
Dromedary (one-humped) camels, also called Arabian camels, can store as much as 80 pounds of fat in their humps.
This enables dromedaries to travel as much as 100 miles across the desert without drinking water.
Plus, camels store most of their fat in their humps and very little throughout the rest of their bodies. This helps them with thermoregulation by making it easier for camels to release heat.
Their Noses Function As Dehumidifiers
Most mammals lose water every time they exhale, but camels’ noses have adapted so that this doesn’t happen. A camel’s nose functions like a dehumidifier. Its mucus membranes cool down the exhaled air.
Because of this cooling effect, the water vapor in the exhaled air is removed, and camels reabsorb it into their bodies.
They Have Insulating Fur
If you imagine having thick fur, you might assume that it would lead camels to be even hotter and sweatier than they would be without it.
However, the opposite is true. Camels’ fur is insulating, and it protects them from the heat of the sun in multiple ways.
Camels have thick fur on the tops of their bodies, and thin fur underneath to allow for easy heat loss.
Studies have shown that shorn camels sweat 50% more than camels with all of their fur!
Camels’ fur can grow to be four inches thick in some areas, and it insulates them from incoming heat. It does this thanks to its light color, which reflects light energy and reduces heat transfer to camels’ skin by radiation.
Plus, the air that gets trapped in camels’ fur minimizes heat transfer by conduction. Finally, the individual hairs making up the camels’ fur block air movement, cutting back on heat transfer by convection.
All of this means that camels are able to conserve hydration by preventing the need to sweat.
They Have Special Blood Cells
Unlike most mammals, which have round red blood cells, camels have oval-shaped blood cells. These cells can expand to double their original size when the camel drinks water and rehydrates itself, helping with water conservation.
Even when the camel is very dehydrated, the thickness of its blood remains the same. Plus, the oval shape of the cells allows them to retain normal hemoglobin function, maintain their composition, and flow quickly and easily.
They’ve Adapted To Need Less Water
Along with their many adaptations to conserve water, camels need less of it, to begin with. In fact, camels can go several months without drinking water when living in mild climates and during the winter months.
In hotter conditions, camels can live for up to ten days without drinking water.
Camels can survive even when they lose as much as one-third of their total body weight due to dehydration, whereas most other mammals would die before losing half of that.
They Can Drink Large Quantities Of Water In Short Periods Of Time
Another adaptation that allows camels to conserve hydration as much as possible is that they can drink huge quantities of water over a very short timespan without diluting their blood.
In about ten minutes, a camel can drink around 29 gallons of water, or one-third of its body weight. Much of this water remains in the camel’s gut for up to a full day and is gradually processed so as not to cause negative health effects.
Because they typically live in extremely hot, dry environments with very few water sources, camels have adapted to conserve as much moisture and hydration as possible.
One of the adaptations that allow them to stay hydrated and healthy in the desert is that they don’t produce much sweat.
The sweat they do produce evaporates directly from their skin for effective and energy-efficient cooling.
Camels don’t urinate much, and when they do, it’s so concentrated that it has a syrupy consistency. Their feces is similarly moisture-free.
Other adaptations include fat-storing humps that can be converted to hydration and noses that prevent water vapor from being exhaled.
In addition, camels have insulating fur that protects them from the sun’s heat and helps to prevent sweating.
They also have oval-shaped blood cells that maintain their composition even when up to one-third of the camel’s body weight has been lost due to dehydration.