Watering Hole

Water is essential for the survival of both humankind and the animal kingdom. The difference is that each species has its own unique way of quenching its thirst. From slurping to gulping, this is how animals quench their thirst

A giraffe can go up to a month without water. This is important because a giraffe is very vulnerable to predators while it is drinking

STICKY TONGUE. With its large scales, it’s hard to miss the Cape pangolin, also known as the ground pangolin. This pangolin also has a thin 40cm-long tongue covered with sticky saliva. The tongue is perfect for licking up ants and termites or to enjoy a quick drink.

LIGHT DRINKER. A snake doesn’t have to drink a lot of water. It has no bladder. However, it does have kidneys. The waste that the kidneys excrete leaves the reptile’s body directly via the urethra. This reptile prefers living in areas with high humidity, such as the banks of a river

ROLLING TONGUE. A butterfly survives on a liquid diet. This insect has a tubular roll tongue that is the same length as its body. It uses this long tongue to sap nectar from flowers or take a sip of water from a stream

SLURPING THROUGH A STRAW. Unlike other birds, a pigeon will not scoop up water with its beak. Instead, it sucks it up – much like slurping through a straw, so to speak.

ENOUGH WATER. An Antarctic seal does not have to drink. It derives enough moisture from its favourite meals: krill and squid. So what is this seal pup doing here? It is exploring a leaking water pipe on the island of South Georgia, Antarctica.

DEW ON THE MENU. One drop of water is all a ladybird needs. Its nutrition is mainly found in aphids and the insect consumes about 100 per day. It is an urban legend that the age of the ladybird is determined by the number of spots on its wings. In fact, there are even ladybirds without spots.

THIRSTY DRINKER. It may sound inconceivable, but an elephant drinks between 70ℓ and 160ℓ a day. It slurps the water up with its trunk and ‘spits’ it into its mouth. In addition, elephants can survive without water for 2 weeks.

PUSHING AND SHOVING. The wildebeest never drinks alone. This animal lives in large herds and moves on to a new area when food and water become scarce. The wildebeest drinks twice a day which, judging from this image, is no easy task.


SOCIAL DRINKERS. A lion drinks by scooping up water with its tongue. It needs about 10 minutes to fill up. Rehydrating can be quite a social event as can be seen here in this photograph.

MOIST PLANTS. A grasshopper lives off grass and fruit that contain enough moisture to quench its thirst. It is hard to ignore this insect no matter how small it is. That’s because it makes plenty of noise in the grass by rubbing its wings against its hind legs.

RISKY THIRST. A giraffe can go up to a month without water. This is important because a giraffe is very vulnerable to predators while it is drinking. This has mainly to do with the fact that it is in a very uncomfortable position while drinking. One would deduce that it is not easy to get up quickly from this ‘splits’ position (Top). It does, however, make for a good photo.

SEARCHING FOR WATER. These impala have nothing to complain about. There are plenty of watering holes in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Often, outside the park, they have to search long and hard for water.


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