Do Camels Really Store Water in their Humps??
on Thursday January 12th, 2017, By Anuja Barve

A camel can survive seven days without water, but not because they are carrying large reserves inside their humps. On average Camels can go without water for upto 2 weeks. They’re able to avoid dehydration that would kill most other animals. These are the following reasons which will prove that Camels do not carry water in their humps.

  • Camels use their hump for storing fat, which they use during food shortage . Conversion of this fat to energy produces water. Roughly every gram of fat can produce more than a gram of water, but this water isn’t directly usable by the camel. In the heat of the desert, the air is hot as well, lacking moisture. If he used the water in his body, especially those around his lungs, he would lose this moisture, because the hot air he inhales would steal it. Thus, even if Camel produces water from the fat stored in his hump, it would eventually be lost via his respiratory system. Which is no good. Is it?

The fat in the hump serves one more purpose: Insulation. Due to the scorching heat,  water tends to evaporate off Camels’s body, upward. The insulation provided by the fat prevents this from happening.

Rather than directly storing water, camels are built for adapting to the scarcity of water. A Camel’s hump can weigh as much as 80pounds (35kilograms).

Camel’s Nose– It plays a crucial part in preserving the moisture inside him.Camel’s nose is a mini humidifier and de-humidifier. As long as the air he inhales is within its body, it (the air) remains hydrated.

Humidifier: When he inhales hot air, the moisture in the lining in his nose is picked up by it. Thus, the hot air becomes humid and cool. This cools the body, as well as prevents further moisture from being stolen from his respiratory system. The lining of the nose has a large surface area, which increases the speed of cooling, as evaporation happens faster.

De-humidifier: When the air is exhaled, the moisture that was initially transferred should be taken back. This is done via the nose itself. There is moisture absorbent material inside the nose, which regains transferred moisture.

Unlike normal animals, this method of respiration reduces water loss by as much as 70%.

  •  Camel blood– On a cellular level, the Red blood cells in a camel’s blood are oval in shape (ellipsoids). They circulate in larger numbers, too. These red blood cells can swell up to 2.4 times their original size, thereby increasing their capacity to carry moisture and oxygen [2].  If the blood cells of humans swell this way, they would rupture and could be fatal, as they can only swell up to 1.5 times their size.

What’s so special about ellipsoid blood cells?

The elliptical shape makes the red blood cell elongated in one direction. When blood flows, these red blood cells align in the same direction. Thus, there is very less chance of sludging affecting the blood flow.

Sludging: When an animal gets de-hydrated, the loss of moisture in the blood makes it thicker, making it difficult for blood flow. A decreased blood flow delivers less nutrients and oxygen as intended, and ends up killing the animal.

Since there is less chance for Camels’s blood to sludge, he can withstand the desert heat for a longer time. He can control his body temperature to some extend, preventing loss of water by inhibiting sweating even at temperatures that could possibly kill other animals. Even if he does sweat, he does so at the skin level and not on the surface, preserving moisture, again. Any excess heat is expelled in the night time.

  • A camel uses about 5 gallons (20 liters) of water a day in the summer. However, a camel can lose up to 25 gallons (100 liters) of water from its body tissues without ill effects. One thing that a camel can do to conserve water is to handle largebody-temperature swings. A camel might start the day at 94 degrees F and allow its temperature to rise as high as 105 degrees F. Only at the upper end of this range does it need to sweat to prevent overheating. When you compare this temperature range to the range the human body can handle (where only a 2 degree rise indicates illness), you can see the advantage.
  • During winters in the Sahara Desert, camels have been known to survive six or seven months without actually drinking . Granted, camels get liquid from the plants they eat during that dry spell, but it’s still an incredibly long time without drinking water. In peak summer months, when the mercury rises higher than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), their nonhydrated stamina drops to around five days.



Anuja Barve

A passionate writer,blogger.

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