What do camels eat in the desert?
Survivalist in the desert
Impressive water reservoir
A thirsty camel can drink 200 liters of water in just 15 minutes. Together with nutrients, the water is stored in three fore-stomachs with 800 large storage cells. It is stored there and available for up to four weeks.
The red blood cells of the camels are special. In contrast to the round erythrocytes of other mammals, they are oval-shaped and are able to expand to around 250 percent of their normal volume through water absorption.
The camel's nostrils can be closed so that little water is lost through breathing. Water vapor contained in the air you breathe can be absorbed by the nasal mucous membranes before you breathe out.
Clever heat regulation
Camels can change their body temperature by up to nine degrees. It often fluctuates between 34 degrees Celsius at night and 42 degrees in the heat of the day. They sweat less during the day and also save water.
The increased body temperature also ensures a lower temperature gradient between body temperature and air during the day. The heat is then only slowly conducted into the body from the hot outside air. This way, the camels save even more water.
Energy reserves on the back
The humps of the old world camels (one hump in the dromedary, two in the trample) are their energy reserves. They are the animals' fat stores. They can draw on these reserves for a long time. They also keep the sun out on your back.
Fat is a poor conductor of heat. The humps protect against both heat and cold. Contrary to popular belief, the camels do not store water in them.
The blood of the animals shows another peculiarity as an adaptation to the extreme living conditions. The number of erythrocytes (red blood cells) is extremely high at 19 million cells per cubic millimeter of blood. This ensures the oxygen supply even with thick and slow-flowing blood.
The organs of the camels are also designed for a life in the desert. The intestines, bladder and kidneys are all able to hold water in the body. The urine of camels is therefore much more concentrated than that of other animals. They only give off around one liter per day. That is very little for animals of this size.
For comparison: a horse secretes an average of ten liters of urine per day. The rectum of camels allows extreme re-uptake of water from the feces. The dry chestnut-sized excrements of the camels are striking.
Author: Siegfried Klaschka
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