The camel is well-known for being able to consume large amounts of water in one go. In fact, camels that are thirsty enough can drink around 30 gallons of water in just a few minutes—an impressive amount! But why do camels drink so much in one go?

In this post, we’ll explore the camel’s drinking habits, why they can survive so long without food and water, and share more cool information about this mighty and intriguing desert mammal.

divider-multipet Do Camels Store Water in Their Humps?

One of the most common questions related to camel’s humps is how many they actually have. There are two types of camel—the dromedary (Arabian camel) and the Bactrian camel. Dromedary camels have one hump, whereas Bactrian camels have two.

When we think of camels, most of us immediately think about them storing water in their humps—it may surprise some to learn that this is just a myth. Water goes into the camel’s bloodstream, not their humps. Camels’ humps store fat. This fat converts to energy and water and helps them sustain themselves for long periods without having to eat or drink.

Incredibly, camels can travel up to 100 miles across the desert and live for several weeks without water in some cases—this length of time can vary depending on factors like temperature and how active the camel is. This is why when they do stop to drink, they take in a great amount of water—they’re preparing themselves for long-distance travel!

If a camel goes for long periods without food, their humps will decrease in size because the fat is being burned up to keep them going. When they’re appropriately nourished, the humps return to their normal size.

Bactrian Camel
Image Credit: Dušan, Pixabay

How Do Camels Survive Without Water?

Camels’ bodies are extremely well adapted to surviving without water. As mentioned above, this is partly because they drink a lot of water in one go to prepare for long distances, and their humps, which can contain up to 80 pounds of fat, keep them going.

Camels also don’t sweat very often due to the type of fur they have, so they don’t easily lose fluids as humans do. Their light-colored fur (which reflects incoming light energy) is adapted to keep hot air off the camel’s skin, while a layer of trapped air in the fur also helps protect them from overheating.

Another reason camels can survive so long without water—particularly in winter—is that they receive some of their hydration from the plants they eat. As herbivores, camels eat a diet consisting mostly of grasses, leaves, and grains. Their lips are tough enough to handle even thorns and cacti.

Are Camels Aggressive?

According to one study, camels can “occasionally be very hostile toward humans”, particularly when threatened or agitated—this should come as no surprise. Furthermore, male camels may become more aggressive than usual during the mating season, but wild camels are typically quite shy.

In short, camels are generally considered placid, peaceful animals, which has allowed them to work alongside humans for thousands of years. They’re non-predatory and, therefore, far from the most aggressive animals.

However, these are huge, powerful animals and could certainly do some serious damage if provoked. Among each other, they’re not usually aggressive but if they do get into a fight, it can be fatal for both camels.

If feeling threatened or agitated, a camel may spit as a defense mechanism. They are capable of regurgitating whatever is in their stomach and then spitting it out with saliva, which apparently smells pretty horrendous. If a camel is going to spit, they’ll bulge out their cheeks first.

Camel Closeup Clouds
Image Credit: julian_salomon, Pixabay

divider-multipet Final Thoughts

In short, camels are animals that can conserve large amounts of water for a long time. They can drink up to 30 gallons in just over 10 minutes, but they’re capable of drinking even more than this.

Their bodies help protect them from losing fluids and dehydrating—particularly their humps, which change fat into water and energy, and their fur which keeps hot air away from their skin. All these factors make for an incredibly hardy, long-lived desert mammal. Camels can live for between 40 and 50 years in the right conditions, though their average lifespan is 28.4 years.

Featured Image Credit: Peggy_Marco, Pixabay