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04

How do animals hydrate?

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How do animals hydrate?

This space has a lot of information about the important role hydration plays for humans. But did you know hydration is also essential for almost all animals?

There’s an exception to every rule and this one is kangaroo rats. They are the only animals that can survive without water. Scientists haven’t found water in their bodies for digestive functions.

Animals use different techniques to hydrate themselves. You’re probably familiar with dogs and cats, who lower their necks and use their tongues to lap water up into their mouths.

You may have seen elephants use their trunks to suck water up and then squirt it in their mouths.

Have you ever considered how a giraffe drinks? They spread their front legs and, like dogs and cats, lower their long necks to get their mouths to the water’s surface. Giraffes have something like a plunger pump to draw water through a valve in their throat into their stomach.

Most birds use their bills or beaks to scoop water and then tilt their heads back to drink. Pigeons are an exception to this technique. They can simply inhale water.

Insects get most of their water from their food or by drinking from standing water, such as puddles. Some insects lap water like a cat, while others suck water like humans using straws. A highly advanced beetle, known as the head-stander beetle, drinks the moisture out of the fog at night in their desert environments.

Amphibians and freshwater animals absorb water through their skin via osmosis, while saltwater fish drink through their mouths and excrete excess water through their gills.

These techniques sound interesting, and some might be fun (albeit messy) for humans to try, but we’ll stick to using cups for our hydration needs.

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