Top of page

Everyday Mysteries

« Back to Zoology page

Question How much water does a camel's hump hold?



Egypt, Pyramids. Pyramid & camel rider reflected in Nile overflow. Matson Photo Service, between 1950-1977. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress

A camel’s hump does not hold water at all – it actually stores fat. The camel uses it as nourishment when food is scarce. If a camel uses the fat inside the hump, the hump will become limp and droop down. With proper food and rest the hump will return to normal.

Bactrian camel, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Md. Detroit Publishing Co, 1906. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The hump is not used for water storage, but camels can go for long periods of time without water. They drink large amounts of water – up to 20 gallons at a time. This water is stored in the animal’s bloodstream.

Camels halting in the desert, Holy Land. Detroit Publishing Company, between 1890 and 1900. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Published: 11/19/2019. Author: Science Reference Section, Library of Congress

Have a question? Ask a science librarian