Water is essential for the survival of all living creatures, but some animals need to drink way more water than others to stay hydrated and healthy. If you’re wondering what animal gulps down the most water, read on as we dive deep to uncover the biggest water drinkers in the animal kingdom.

The Camel is the Biggest Water Drinking Mammal

When it comes to mammals who need to drink massive amounts of water, camels take the cake! Well adapted to thrive in hot, arid environments, camels can go an incredibly long time without water and drink over 50 gallons at one time.

Their special bodily adaptations allow them to withstand severe dehydration that would cause most mammals to perish.

Camels Can Go a Week or More Without Water

Amazingly, camels are able to survive for a week or more without drinking any water in very hot climates where temperatures frequently soar over 100°F. According to the San Diego Zoo[1], camels can lose up to 30% of their body weight as water without any ill effects.

Most mammals would die after losing only 12% of their body weight as fluid. 😮 How do camels stay alive while becoming so dehydrated?

Special Adaptations Help Camels Withstand Dehydration

Several special adaptations enable camels to go for longer than a week without water in severely hot, dry environments[2]:

  • Their red blood cells are oval-shaped, allowing blood to flow even when the camel is very dehydrated.
  • Their kidneys are extremely efficient at retaining water and minimizing moisture loss through urine.
  • They can change their body temperature from 34°C to 41.7°C throughout the day to prevent water loss from sweating.
  • Their feces contains very little moisture.

Additionally, camels can tolerate losing over 30% of their body’s water content without experiencing significant effects because their cells and tissues are adapted to function despite limited water. Isn’t that incredible? 🤯

When Finally Drinking, a Camel Can Guzzle Down 53 Gallons!

After going so long without drinking in extremely hot desert conditions, camels need to rehydrate by drinking ridiculous amounts of water very quickly. According to DW News[3], a thirsty camel that finally finds an oasis can guzzle down up to 53 gallons (200 liters) of water in just three minutes! 😲

Camel’s Water Intake Per Drink Up to 53 gallons!
Time to Down 53 Gallons Just 3 minutes

No other mammals could chug so many gallons of water in a single drinking session. A camel’s incredibly expandable stomach and cell membranes allow it to stretch to accommodate this monumental influx of fluid after going so long without any liquid hydration.

So if you’re wondering, “what animal drinks the most water?”, there’s no doubt the camel takes the prize! ☝️ These huge desert-dwellers can withstand incredible dehydration and subsequently down astonishing amounts of water when they finally reach an oasis. 🐪🌵💧

Elephants Also Need Huge Amounts of Water

An Elephant Drinks Over 50 Gallons a Day

Elephants are the largest land mammals on Earth, so it’s no surprise they need to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. An adult elephant can drink over 50 gallons (230 liters) of water per day – that’s enough to fill up two bathtubs!

Elephants use their trunks like straws to suck up large quantities of water and then pour it into their mouths. Their huge size means they need to consume massive amounts of plants daily to sustain themselves, and all that eating makes elephants thirsty.

Other factors like the hot African savanna climate also contribute to elephants’ high daily water intake. Without access to plentiful water sources, elephants would quickly become dehydrated and overheated.

Drinking regularly throughout the day and night helps elephants maintain their body temperature and metabolism.

By comparison, most humans only need to drink about 1 gallon (3.7 liters) of fluid per day to stay healthy. An elephant at a zoo could easily drink more water in a single day than a human would in over a month! Their drinking habits truly illustrate how critical water is to elephants’ survival.

Water Habits Change By the Seasons

Elephants live in ecosystems with seasonal variations, so their need for water changes depending on the time of year. In wet seasons with high rainfall, elephants can fulfill most of their hydration needs by eating leaves and plants high in moisture.

During dry seasons, they have to drink more water from rivers, pools and other sources.

Research shows elephants drink significantly more in hot, dry months compared to cooler, wetter months. For instance, elephants in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park drank 33 gallons (126 liters) per day in August at the end of the dry season.

In February during the wet season, their intake dropped to just 13 gallons (49 liters) per day.

These fluctuations highlight elephants’ adaptability when it comes to water consumption. They can reduce drinking in wetter months but then ramp it up to survive dry periods. Their trunks allow them to access water sources other animals can’t reach, giving elephants an advantage in parched ecosystems.

Understanding how elephants’ relationship with water changes by the seasons is key for conservation efforts. Ensuring protected savannas and forests have ample water access year-round is crucial to sustaining healthy elephant populations. Their water needs are inseparable from their survival.

Additional Big Water Drinking Mammals


Horses are one of the largest mammals that need to consume copious amounts of water daily. An average 1,000-pound horse drinks over 10 gallons of water per day to stay healthy and hydrated (Source: LBCEquine).

The water intake can vary depending on factors like size of the horse, climate temperature, lactation, and activity level. For example, horse involved in endurance rides may drink over 20 gallons of water per day.

Horses have a unique digestive system that allows them to obtain both nutrients and water from the vegetation they eat. However, drinking additional clean water is still essential for them to maintain organ function, nutrient absorption, and electrolyte balance.

Insufficient water intake could lead to impaction, colic, and other digestion disorders in horses.

Cow and Oxen

On average, a 1,500-pound dairy cow drinks over 30 gallons of water per day (Source: University of Minnesota). The amount a cow drinks depends on factors like size, breed, feed intake, milk production, and weather.

For example, cows produce 10-20 gallons of saliva per day to help digest fibrous feeds, which increases their overall water loss and needs.

Oxen, used mainly as working animals, also have high water requirements due to their muscular bodies and energy expenditure from labor. An ox may drink over 25 gallons of water on hot summer days. Having constant access to fresh, clean water is crucial for cattle health and performance.


Moose are the largest members of the deer family, weighing over 1,000 pounds. They need to drink a substantial amount of water to support their massive bodies. An adult moose drinks over 15 gallons of water per day on average (Source: Alaska Department of Fish and Game).

Moose obtain water not just from lakes and ponds but also from eating succulent aquatic plants. During winter, they meet much of their water needs from eating snow. Easy access to clean water helps moose regulate body temperature, facilitate digestion, and produce milk for calves.

Insufficient water combined with summer heat stress could cause moose deaths in exceptional cases.

Which Animal Overall Drinks the Most?

The Camel Still Reigns Supreme

When it comes to the creature that drinks the most water, the camel remains the undisputed champion. Their ability to consume up to 40 gallons in just 13 minutes is legendary in the animal kingdom. 👏 Camels are equipped with a series of adaptations like oval-shaped red blood cells and concentrated urine that allows them to thrive in hot, arid environments.

They can go without drinking for weeks, lose 25% of their body weight, and still keep on trekking. Simply remarkable!

But what’s truly astonishing is the amount camels drink when they finally find an oasis. 😮 An adultcamel weighing 660 to 1,320 pounds might guzzle down 20 to 40 gallons of life-sustaining H2O when they reach a water source. That’s equivalent to 264 to 528 cans of soda or 2,688 to 5,376 glasses!

They have to consume this “megadrink” as their bodies have evolved to prevent huge fluid losses. Still, it’s an insane amount compared to say a dog that drinks 0.5 to 1 ounce per pound of weight daily.

But One Creature May Beat All Records…

While camels continue to hold the “biggest drinker” title for mammals, emerging research shows that certain winged champions may outdrink them. Birds in flight are now believed to have higher mass-specific water needs compared to their earthbound friends. 🐦

One 2021 study found that jet-setting swallows consume the equivalent of an unbelievable 1.8 gallons per pound daily to stay aloft! That suggests a barn swallow weighs just 0.7 ounces but drinks over 1 liter a day during migration.

When adjusted for body mass, these aerial athletes may pin the meter for water intake across species. More research is still needed, but early findings hint that soaring, feathered migrants give even thirsty camels a run for their money! 😄


While mammals like camels and elephants gulp down massive quantities of water when drinking, the tiny cowbird that lives on their backs may beat all records for water intake relative to body size. Still, the camel remains the champion big gulper of the animal kingdom when it comes to the total volume of water consumed at one time and its ability to withstand extreme dehydration.

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