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Camels do not store water in their humps, despite the once popular belief. The humps are reservoirs of fat tissue which helps them survive in hot climates. When it is metabolized, it yields water and this fat metabolization causes water to be evaporated from the lungs during respiration.
Contrary to popular belief, the humps of camels are fat reservoirs and are not water reservoirs. Camels can go for ten months without a sip of water, as long as they can get sufficient moisture from green vegetation and dew. Camels have a number of physiological adaptations that allow them to forego water. For instance, camels can lose up to 40 percent of their body weight with no ill effects. A camel can also withstand a variation in body temperature of up to 14° Fahrenheit (-10° Celsius).
And when a camel reaches water, it can consume huge quantities in a short time. A camel can drink 30 gallons (113.4 liters) of water in ten minutes and up to 50 gallons (189 liters) over several hours.
Camels may have one hump or two humps. A one-humped camel is called a Dromedary, or Arabian, camel. A two-humped camel is called a Bactrian camel. Dromedary camels live in Africa and Bactrian camels live in the Gobi Desert of northern China and Mongolia.
Sources: The Marshall Cavendish International Wildlife Encyclopedia, vol. 5, pp. 484, 488; Voelker, William. The Natural History of Living Mammals, pp. 272-73.
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