Do Camels Store Water in Their Humps?

238

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Do Camels Store Water in Their Humps?

Camels haveِ long beenِ known forِ their ability toِ goِ weeks atِ a time withoutِ needing toِ drink water—an ability thatِ makesِ them particularlyِ useful pack animals forِ people traveling across arid environments andِ that earned themِ theِ nickname “ships ofِ the desert.” Camels areِ alsoِ known forِ their prominent humps (either oneِ or twoِ humps, depending onِ the species), whichِ leads manyِ people toِ believeِ that theseِ areِ used toِ store water forِ access atِ a laterِ time.
However, camels’ humps actuallyِ store fatty tissue, notِ water, whichِ isِ used asِ a source ofِ nourishment whenِ food isِ scarce.

So whyِ doِ camels store fat inِ these humps insteadِ of havingِ it spread equally throughoutِ theirِ bodies, likeِ other mammals.
When a camel isِ unable toِ access food forِ a long period ofِ time, itsِ body isِ able toِ metabolize theِ fat inِ the humps forِ nutrition.
The camel’s humps alsoِ help theِ animal regulate itsِ body temperature, anِ important feature inِ the desert, whereِ temperatures canِ beِ extremely high duringِ the day andِ drop drastically atِ night.

Although theِ humps doِ not store water, camels areِ still incredibly efficient inِ the amount ofِ water theyِ use perِ day, whichِ isِ why theyِ areِ able toِ goِ nearly a week withoutِ drinking.
This isِ partly due toِ theِ unique shape ofِ their blood cells, whichِ areِ oval.
Oval-shaped blood cells allowِ camels toِ consume large amounts ofِ water (up toِ 30 gallons inِ one sitting!) sinceِ the cells areِ more elastic andِ can change shape moreِ easily.

A camel’s humps areِ incredibly important forِ the animal’s survival inِ a tough environment likeِ a desert.
Without itsِ humps, a camel wouldِ beِ more likelyِ to overheat andِ sweat—but it’s stillِ the oval-shaped blood cells thatِ helpِ the camel retain soِ muchِ water, notِ the humps.