How do camels survive in the desert?
Have you ever heard about adaptation? Adaptation is the feature in animals that help them to survive in their habitats. Camels can easily live in the hot desert where sand blows. But how? Camels have double rows of extra long lashes and thick eyebrows to keep the sand out of their eyes. Despite less vegetation and water there, they keep walking for days without any food and water. They have big humps that stores fat can be converted into energy when there is no food and water. Even their feet are designed to walk beautifully in the sand without any issue.
How do camels survive in the desert? How do they survive without food and water for so long? How do they keep all the desert sand from blowing into their eyes?
On a hot sunny day, we tend to get thirsty easily and we keep drinking water to stay hydrated. But a camel can go on for days in the hot and arid desert weather without drinking any water at all. This is very useful since in the desert where the camel resides there is hardly any water.
Camels can survive up to ten months without a sip of water.
How Do Camels Store Water and Food?
Camels can store water. But not in their humps. There is a common misconception that camels use their humps to store water, but that’s not true.
Camels typically live in deserts where there is scarcity of both water and food. A camel’s hump is a huge lump of fat on its back. Each hump can weigh up to 80 pounds or 36 kgs. Some camels have two humps while some others have just one.
This hump allows the camel to survive for up to two whole weeks without eating any food.
But the hump hardly has any water in it. So, it is not true that camels store water in the humps. So where do they store the water for such a long time?
The camel can drink up to 46 litres of water in just about 15 minutes. They can conserve water by managing their body temperatures. When the camels drink water, their red blood cells swell up in an oval shape which gradually keeps the body hydrated. This helps the camel survive in extreme conditions of the desert.
Camels have adapted themselves to the scarcity of food and water in the desert areas.
The hump also acts as a barrier. It traps the water from evaporating just like a cap on a bottle. That is why the camel has more hair on its hump then on the rest of its body. If there was no way of trapping the water, it would escape the blood making it sticky and thick. Unable to circulate the heat properly, the camel would overheat and die.
However, camels are well adapted for this life. Extremely well adapted.
How do camels survive in hot climate?
They are able to drop their body temperature so low at night so that during the day, it will take them a little longer than usual to heat up. Camels also have very high levels of hyperthermia. That is, they can allow their body temperature to go a few degrees higher before using cooling methods like sweating. So no, camels don’t store water in their humps. It’s in their blood.
When a human or any other animal gets dehydrated, the loss of moisture in the blood makes it thicker making it difficult for the blood to flow. As the blood flow becomes slower the flow of nutrients and oxygen contained in it also gets slow. This ends up killing the animal due to blood sludging. But in case of camels the red blood cells are oval. The elliptical shape makes the red blood cells elongated in one direction. As the blood flows, these red blood cells align in one direction and so the blood flow does not get affected. These blood cells can swell up to 2.4 times its original size thereby increasing its capacity of storing oxygen and nutrients.
As the camel moves around doing its daily chores of carrying people on its backs it converts the fat stored in its hump into energy. The conversion of fat into energy produces water.
Camels rarely sweat in summers. They do not even urinate liquid. Their urine is in the form of solid crystals so there is no water loss there as well! And they have thick skinned coats that can keep their body cool.
So, does the hump become like a deflated balloon when all the fat gets used up? Exactly! It becomes limp and floppy once all the fat has been used up. So, camels eat and drink in large quantities as long as there is food and water around.
How do they keep all the desert sand from blowing into their eyes?
The word camel means beauty in Arabic. They are called so probably because they have the most amazing eyes.
Have you ever wondered how the camel can see through the heavy winds blowing in the desert? How do they keep the sand from blowing into their eyes?
Camels have long eyelashes and not one or two, but three eye lids. If you are wondering what eyelids are, they are the thin protective skin that moves over your eyes every time you blink. Two of the camel’s eyelids have eyelashes while the third one doesn’t. The third eyelid works sort of like the windshield wiper of your car. It cleans the camel’s eyes from sand. Unlike the other eyelids, the third lid moves from side to side rather than up and down. It is also transparent enough for the camels to see through it. So, during a sandstorm or a windy day, the camel closes the third eye lid to protect its eyes from the sand.