How do camels conserve water?

Thirsty camel drinking water from a water bottle.

When water is available, a camel may drink from five to seven gallons (19 to 26 liters) a day.

But the remarkable feature is its ability to get along for extended periods without doing so.

How long can a camel go without water?

Loaded, these animals have been known to travel eight days without drinking water.

Thirty-four days is a record.

Water storage and conservation

It does not store water in its hump, nor in its stomach.

Of course, some water is taken into its system from the vegetation on which it feeds.

The explanation for its endurance, however, seems to lie in its ability to retain water in its system and to undergo considerable loss of moisture without experiencing ill effects.

A camel’s temperature may rise 11 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) and yet there are no noticeable problems.

A human is in serious trouble when he loses water amounting to one tenth of his body weight, but a camel can tolerate a loss of water equaling one fourth of its body weight.

This is because the animal loses water mainly from the tissues.

Any loss of water from the blood is negligible.

In humans, however, moisture is lost from both the tissues and the blood.

The notable difference between the blood of man and that of the camel is the shape of the red blood cells.

Human’s red blood cells are disk-shaped, whereas those of the camel are oval.

After having gone without water for a prolonged period, a camel may drink twenty-seven gallons (102 liters) of water within some ten minutes.

When that happens the animal is transformed from an emaciated creature to a normal state in short order.

This is because the water passes into the tissues.

Truly the camel is a remarkable animal, ideally suited for life in desert areas.

It has served humans well for many centuries and will doubtless continue to do so in the drier regions of the earth.