What Animals Can Go the Longest Without Drinking Water? (Up to 20 years!)

As per the “rule of three,” an individual can survive for three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, and three weeks without food. However, some animals possess superhuman abilities that allow them to survive far longer without the needs of life. They can survive in some of the most extreme environments on the planet thanks to their adaption. It’s true that certain creatures can survive for up to 20 years without consuming any water at all!

11. Camel (15 days)

Are you shocked to learn that camels don’t even rank in the top 10 when it comes to being waterless? Oh, you will be in complete awe at what we have in store for you. With all due respect, though, our thirsty camel buddies do possess a special method of storing water. When water is short, they use the fat stored in their humps as a source of energy and hydration. When the fat reserves are being depleted, the humps start to sag and expand. For camel riders, it’s a really handy way to find out how much “gas” their animal has left and to begin searching for the next oasis where they can refuel!

10. Giraffe (21 days)

A giraffe would travel a week farther than a camel if you were riding an animal to cross the desert. A giraffe’s thirst can last up to 21 days. They lack the ability to store significant volumes of water in their bodies, in contrast to camels. However, they do draw moisture from the plants they consume, especially the leaves of acacia. Giraffes are unable to physically consume water until they spread their front legs. They can consume up to 14 gallons (54 liters) at once during an extended dry period.

9. Desert Tortoise (1 year)

There are two primary species of desert tortoises, which inhabit the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. They have an expanded bladder inside their domed shells that can hold 40 percent of their body weight in liquid waste and water. If they don’t become afraid, it has enough in it to help the tortoise get through a dry season that might last up to a year. A desert tortoise may use up all of its water stores in an instant of fear. It can perish soon if it can’t get more moisture during the dry season.

8. Jerboa (3 years)

Asia, North Africa, and Eastern Europe are the original home of the jerboa. They have huge ears that enable them hear even the smallest sound of an approaching predator, they can jump very high to escape from predators, and they are highly suited to the harsh environment of the desert. They survive for three years without consuming liquid water; instead, they obtain their water from the plants and insects they heat.

7. Water-Holding Frog (5 years)

Given that it lives in the dry outback of Australia, the water-holding frog actually does need a means of retaining water. By absorbing water through its skin, it hyperhydrates itself. In order to stop water loss when things dry up, they dig beneath the surface and surround themselves with a skin cocoon. Then, in order to prevent itself from being very hungry, it gradually eats its skin. In this state, it can live an incredible five years!

6. Kangaroo Rat (5 years)

Despite their name, kangaroo rats are not native to Australia and have nothing to do with kangaroos. These are tiny rodents that are indigenous to North America’s deserts. Their amazing long-distance jumping prowess, which they attribute to their ability to stick the landing thanks to their tails, gave them their moniker. A set of kidneys that extract as much water as possible from their urine is one of their adaptations to living in the desert. They have oily coats to help keep them cool, but they also don’t sweat. They can survive without liquid water for their whole five-year lifespan because to their modifications!

5. West African Lungfish (5 years)

Lungfish from West Africa have lived on Earth for about 400 million years. They can take oxygen from the air and use their gills to breathe underwater. They burrow into the mud and defend themselves by encasing themselves in a mucus cocoon when drought strikes. They can live in this manner for up to five years, obtaining nutrition from the breakdown of their own muscular tissue.

4. Gerenuk (8 years)

When you first see an image of a gerenuk, you could assume that it has been altered by photoshop. However, these odd beings that resemble a cross between a giraffe and an antelope are real. They are indigenous to East Africa’s savannas and deserts. Their long necks let them to detect danger from a distance and retrieve leaves from higher branches. Because they have nasal passageways that stop moisture from evaporating out, they conserve water. Urine is very concentrated because their bodies retain water in it. And they stay put to peruse, moving only as much as is necessary. They are able to retain moisture in their meals and survive for up to eight years without consuming liquid water thanks to all of this.

3. Couch’s Spadefoot Toad (10 years)

Spadefoot toads of Couch’s are found in the Colorado Desert. They are expanding quickly. The tadpoles develop legs in ten days after the eggs hatch, and within three months, they have grown to half the size of an adult. They cover themselves with layers of partially lost skin during dry spells and burrow down to a damp layer of sand. With their water reserves, they can go up to ten years without consuming any!

2. Arabian Sand Gazelle (14 years)

Small populations of Arabian sand gazelles can be found all over the Arabian Peninsula and its surrounding regions. They have shrunk their livers and hearts by up to 30% in order to tolerate the extreme heat of the desert. Animals with these organs breathe more and utilize a lot of oxygen, which causes them to lose moisture with each breath. They breathe less and waste less water because their hearts and livers are smaller. This benefits these elegant animals in that it lessens the amount of scorching, dusty desert air they breathe in.

1. Thorny Devil (20 years)

Really, zoologists haven’t been kind to Australia’s prickly devil. Not only is its popular name offensive, but its scientific name in Latin is Molochoridus. A child was sacrificed in honor of the ancient Canaanite god Moloch. Actually meaning “rough” or “bristly,” the word “horridus” can also signify “rude” or, indeed, even more horrible.

This little 8.3-inch (21 cm) lizard is actually solely hostile toward the ants it consumes. It is physically incapable of drinking liquid water since its mouth is so uniquely designed to consume ants. Rather, drops of dew condense on its scales and are absorbed by capillary action from all over its body to the mouth. They can bury themselves in the sand to absorb any remaining moisture when conditions are extremely dry. It is clear that this little devil is the animal that can survive the longest without drinking water—it can live for up to fifteen years.