MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Do Camels Really Store Water In Their Humps?

Anyone who’s ever watched a cartoon knows that camels store water in their humps…right? Or do they?

Water isn’t the only scarce desert resource; food is, too. And because of that scarcity, camels consume as much food as they possibly can (when it’s available), storing the excess fat in their humps & drawing from that reserve whenever there’s no food available. Camels can actually survive for several months without eating, sometimes losing up to 40% of their body weight in the process.

So, while a camel’s hump doesn’t actually store water, their humps may help them preserve some of the precious water from elsewhere in their bodies. By confining fat to that one spot (the hump), rather than storing it throughout the body like other mammals, most of a camel’s surface area doesn’t provide insulating heat, which helps keep its body temperature low during the day, as it doesn’t need to sweat. Then, when night falls and the desert gets cold, the heat that’s been insulated in their humps gets dispersed, keeping the camel warm.

As far as staying hydrated, camels don’t so much lock water away in storage but rather they use it as efficiently as possible. Some camels, like Arabian or dromedary camels (which have one hump), as well as Bactrian camels (which have two humps) can guzzle around 30 gallons of water in 13 minutes, thanks in part to their elliptical blood cells, which are optimal for water absorption and blood flow. And because they urinate so infrequently, as well as create feces so dry you can actually burn them, and since their body temperature can rise as high as 106°F before needing to disseminate some of that heat by sweating, camels are genuinely naturally built as water-retaining, dehydration-withstanding beasts.

Got a Mundane Mysteries you’d like solved? Send me a message via Twitter (@AndyWebbRadio), or by email at [email protected]!

BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Airtron Heating & Air Conditioning