Some individuals may incorrectly assume that a camel is the animal that can go the longest without drinking water, but that is not true. There are several animals that can survive for very long periods of time, much longer than a camel, without water. There are a variety of adaptive processes which may account for animals that do not need as much water to survive and thrive as humans or other animals.
Sand cat does not need free water
The sand cat lives in desert areas of Northern Africa to Southwest Asia, and have adapted to the terrain of their habitat. Sand cats do not need free water, according to the BBC Science and Nature article, “Sand cat, sand dune cat.” The lightly colored sand cat obtains all the water that it needs from the food it eats, which mainly consists of small rodents, reptiles, birds and other small animals. The sand cat can dig underground when searching for prey during the night, when the sand cat is most active. After a night-time feast on whatever prey it finds to sustain its body with the food it needs, which also supplies an ample amount of water, the sand cat rests during the day in a burrow it digs for itself.
The kangaroo rat can get water from sources not safe for humans and other animals
The tiny kangaroo rat lives in the western and southwestern areas of the United States. It is from its food that the kangaroo rat gets its necessary water from the seeds that the kangaroo rat eats. At just 6 to 14 inches long and weighing less than half a pound, the kangaroo rat scurries about eating seeds and transporting seeds for storage in their cheek pouch. Another food source for this tiny creature is certain cacti that are not able to be eaten by humans and other animals. The cacti most likely aids in helping the kangaroo rat maintain moisture in its body.
DesertUSA says that “nature has provided them with the ability to survive with very little water and, in the deserts, with no free water at all.” The kangaroo rat does not even store water in its body like other animals, yet its body maintains “about the same water content” that other animals maintain in their bodies. Another aid in maintaining water in its body is that the kangaroo rat only leaves its home during the nighttime when it is cooler; therefore it is not out in the intense heat.
The endangered addax can survive without water
The addax is a well-adapted desert antelope, whose natural habitat is primarily from eastern Niger to western Chad, into southern Algeria. The addax used to thrive across the Sahara but have been over-hunted and subjected to recent droughts, which have driven them to near-extinction. Aware of the hunters chasing them down, addax learned to seek refuge in areas of the desert with large dunes where people could not hunt them down.
The addax eats a variety of grasses, and leaves of small bushes when in the wild and gets water off the dew and vegetation. When living in a zoo, such as the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago, Illinois, the addax eats a diet of carrots, sweet potatoes and grains. Other than water obtained from food, the addax lives off water stored in its body.
The sand gazelle has fascinated the scientific community
The sand gazelle has undergone some dramatic adaptations to survive without water in the Sahara. ScienceDaily discussed recent study results which revealed that the sand gazelle has the capability to actually shrink its liver and heart when water is in short supply. By shrinking its oxygen-demanding organs, study researchers found, the sand gazelle breathes less, thereby reducing the amount of water lost to evaporation. This occurs not for just a short period of time, but for up to six months. Vegetation provides the primary source of both food and water sources for the sand gazelle.
While there are several animals that are able to go without water for a period of time, some animals are able to survive without drinking water for extended periods of time. In fact, some animals have adapted to their habitat in such a manner that they are able to go nearly their entire lives without drinking free water.