How Long Can a Camel Go Without Water?

A wondering question: “How long can a camel go without water?” makes people think how is it possible that a camel, even with lower body stature than many mammals like elephants, could go so far, without drinking a single drop of water.

It is a known fact that camels can live without drinking water for weeks but the only thing that makes the fact seekers think is how camels fulfill the body’s water needs.

A fact-based knowledge is shared in this article that answers all the questions like, why can a camel survive without water for more than a week? how long can a camel go without water? in a quite beautiful way.

Let’s move to the article without wasting time from the very basic facts of the camel’s feed habit that directly relates to your question.

How long can a camel go without drinking water

How long can a camel go without water? Camels have the ability to go up to seven months without drinking water. Being a desert animal, they spend most of their time traveling in desert areas and while moving in such harsh conditions, without any intake of food or water, it may cause the loss of their half bodyweight.

But here the only question click in mind is that do their humps get smaller?

Yes, of course, the hump will get smaller or sometimes flattened in the fatal conditions and it may cause the death of the animal.  

Humps are the fat-storing tissues that store the extra food in the form of fats rather than water. And in conditions of no water, the body consumes energy from these fatty tissues so if the hunger and thirst conditions prolong, it will cause the loss of body weight.

Camel’s feed habit impact the long travels

Camel originally originated in the Western Hemisphere and distributed laterally in southwestern Asia, the Middle East, and northern Africa. The original family to which camel belongs does also include Alpacas, Llamas, and vicuñas.

The Camel family has a wide range of species that have many similarities but do have a lot of differences among species by their weight carrying capacity, number of humps, and height.

The most common way of distinguishing the species is by counting the number of humps:

  • Dromedary camels

These are the most abundant species having a single hump.

  • Bactrian camels

This species has double humps and it is a less abundant species.

Hump is the main energy storing organ in camels so each camel has hump, one or two, for storing fat. It is the heavenly part of a camel’s body that weighs more than 36 kilograms (80 pounds), if you slice off a hump from the body of a healthy camel.

All the camels, even if they are hungry or not, have a hump as long as they do not reach the fatal stage due to hunger.

Camel’s hump is considered as the major organ responsible for storing so much water for body needs, but actually these bulges of hump are filled with fat. 

There are generally two concepts regarding the camel’s life without water that actually are circulating among the community:

  1. Some people believe that the camels have parts in their stomachs and they store water in a part and fill it with just water.
  2. The other concept relies on the hump filled with water, that is totally wrong to consider it as a water strong organ, which is otherwise a fat storing organ that works as the gasoline in the car trunk.

The hump of a camel is a fat-storing organ that provides energy on metabolism when there is a scarcity of water. To keep the body hydrated, the camels withdraw the energy from the fats and this much energy makes them active for many weeks.

So, you will often observe the deflation in the camel hump as longer a camel goes without eating.

Whenever a camel eats a fodder or something, it actually eats so much to store the extra energy in the form of fat in humps that is consumed in scarce days of feed and water. That factor proves a much difference between the single and double hump camels. 

In this way, the feeding habit of a camel impacts the distance a camel could travel without water and the duration of months he could bear in absence of drinking water.

I know a lot of questions arose now in your mind like why do camels store fat in humps rather than the whole body like other mammals? What happens to a camel’s hump if it goes without water and food? All of these questions are explained in this article in an interesting way that will make you think more of the camel’s lifestyle.

how long can a camel go without drinking water

Why do camels store fat in these humps instead of having it spread equally throughout their bodies, like other mammals? 

Camels being the desert animal have a unique feed habit, and in deserts, the food resources are hard to come by. If the camel gets any food resource it eats to their fill and the extra energy stored in their humps in the form of fats.

But why do they store the fat in their humps rather than storing around the belly and other parts that could also work as the insulating layer around the body?

Whenever the food and water resources become scarce, the body metabolizes the fat in humps for nutrition and the humps get deflated with time but it recovers when camels get access to food.

Humps have the major advantage of regulating the body temperature of camels in a wonderful way. As being a desert animal, they face high temperatures during the daytime that drop drastically in the evening tonight.

Camels store fats just in humps to minimize the insulation of the body in so many temperatures by concentrating the fatty acids on their head backs or in humps. 

In this way during night time, when the temperature drops, the camel dissipates the heat from the body.

So the camels store the fatty acids only in humps as it is their main part of the energy, not for insulating the whole body with fats.

What happens to a camel’s hump, if it goes without food and water?

Camels actually store the fats in the humps, not water. The concept of storing water by camels for later is not very supportive after the results of this research. 

In the food scarce condition, the metabolizing of fats from humps makes the humps shrink or deflate. The hump will disappear if the hunger prolongs.

Do camels store water in their humps?

Until there is no scientifically proven evidence that supports the statement that camels can store the water for long periods in their body. But the scientists believed that camels store the water in one of three stomachs. ( source)

Their body is well adapted to dehydration conditions so they consume water efficiently. 

Camel’s body has a natural phenomenon that supports the holding of water for more time. The fur present on the body prevents the sweating from the body surface and keeps the body temperature lower.

The major thing that supports the water holding or water storing capacity of camels is the shape of body cells.

The body cells have elasticity to hold a lot of water, sometimes more than their actual size. 

Most of the scientists believed that the camel’s body cells have the major influence to keep them alive in drought conditions.

do camel store water in their humps

How far can a camel travel in a day without water before its hump starts to slump? 

It’s an interesting question and asked many times in the programs and comments section. I reviewed an article by animal geography in which they examined that the camel can go for six to seven months without drinking.

How is it possible that a human being could survive only three to five days but camels can go for months. Actually, camels have an impressive body structure and feeding habit that enables the meeting of liquid needs from the previously eaten plants.

During the winters, a camel can go far more than seven months even if there is no availability of food. 

But in the case of summers, the temperature rises to much extent and so their non hydrated stamina drops to just five days.

How much water does a camel drink when it drinks water?

A camel can drink 200 liters of water in just three minutes. It is a much interesting number of any animal as it seems like he is drinking for the last time. 

It is generally believed that a typical camel drinks about 100 liters of water at one time. But the misunderstanding arises at this point, where do camels store water, in hump or stomach?

Actually, the water goes to the animal’s digestive and circulatory system and is stored for later consumption.

Where do camels store water and how do they survive by dropping water level in the body?

Camels have the ability to survive in drought conditions even if the body loses the 40% fluids, but in terms of humans that number is just 15% and any more loss of body fluids will lead to the death of humans.

What actually makes the camels survive by dropping so much water level in the body? The adaptations in body structure are the main thing responsible for their survival and explain how camels conserve water.

During the hottest months of summer, the camels protect the brain tissues from heat spikes by cooling these parts while leaving the body exposed to direct temperature effects.

The only thing that makes their body survive through so much temperature exposure is their unique blood cell shape. Unlike humans, they have elliptical-shaped blood cells that have much more elasticity that runs in the bloodstreams with the same flow even intaking a lot of water. 

That water stored in the blood cells makes them survive the hottest summer days in deserts.

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  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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