Even though camels can plod through the desert for days with very little water, it’s a myth that they store water in their humps and stomach.

Unlike most mammals, a camel does not have layers of fat under its skin.  A camel’s fat is accumulated in its hump.  When food and water are scarce the camel uses its stored fat in the hump for energy.  The hump also serves as a water source, obtained by extracting water chemically from fat reserves.

Fat is broken down to release hydrogen.  This then combines with oxygen to form water internally.  The camel can then use this water to maintain its body functions.  As camel tissues dehydrate after days without drinking, camels can lose as much as twenty-five per cent of their body weight without adverse effects.  But when a thirsty camel eventually finds water, it may drink up to thirty gallons in fifteen minutes.

The thicker hair on a camel’s back helps keep the heat out and protect the skin from the sun.  However the underside of the camel is covered with very thin hair, which allows more body heat to escape into the shaded area beneath it.  Unlike many mammals the camel can allow its body temperature to rise a few degrees.

So next time you feel thirsty, you’ll have to rely on the tap, because your body has very limited built-in water storage capacity.

Bob