How to find water in the wilderness using animals’ help

Finding water in the wilderness is as hard as finding food, but it’s not impossible. Many people have died in the woods because they weren’t able to find water or they didn’t know where to search for it. Dehydration is one of the biggest problems for nature enthusiasts.

Providing your body with enough water is crucial and something you need to do to stay alive. It’s not always as easy as it sounds, but it is possible to find water in the wild. This time we’ll look at some tips on how to use the movement and behavior of animals to locate a water source, knowledge that might just save your life one day.

Learning more about the nature of birds, insects, mammals, and reptiles will lead you to a water body because none of these creatures can live without water. So, by following their movements, sooner or later, you will find their preferred water source.


A wild beehive means you are not too far from water
A wild beehive means you are not too far from water

If you see bees in the area, that’s a good sign. Bees need to drink water, so if there’s a hive near by, you can be sure that a water source is somewhere close. Wild bees never have their hives any further than 3 or 4 miles from fresh water. Knowing that they fly a mile approximately in 12 minutes, means that you are close to water from the moment you spot the bees.


The movements of ants can reveal a hidden water reservoir
The movements of ants can reveal a hidden water reservoir

Ants, too, need water for their survival, so if you see a black column of ants going up a tree and disappearing into a tree hole, there may be a hidden reservoir of fresh water in the tree. To be sure there is water inside, dip a long straw or a thin stick inside the hole and check if it’s wet. If it is, make the hole bigger with whatever tool you have and get the water out. It’s stealing the ants’ water supply, but your life is what matters. DO NOT chop the tree to get the water out! Make the hole bigger and dip a cloth inside that you can squeeze or find a hollow stick and suck the water out. Trees that have water reservoirs are usually sheoaks and many species of wattle.

Mason Flies

Mason flies are big, hornet-like insects and there is usually a water source within a few yards from the place where they’re building their tunnels. If it’s not a water source, then it’s wet soil for sure. Follow the mason fly and see where it drops. The place from where the mason fly digs out mud for its nest will often lie on a fresh, drinkable water source. Start digging as well and after a few feet fresh water will likely appear.


Pigeons usually start looking for water towards the end of the day
Pigeons usually start looking for water towards the end of the day

Wild pigeons are a good indicator of nearby water. They eat grains and seeds during the day, and with the approaching of dusk, they start looking for water. If a pigeon flies low and swift, it means it’s heading for the water source; if it flies from tree to tree, it means it’s heavy from drinking. Most of the grain eating birds, except parrots and cockatoos, are good water indicators. Flesh-eating and water birds aren’t such good indicators of a freshwater source, as they get most of the moisture they need from the prey they eat.


Just forget about following reptiles to a water source! They barely ever drink water.


Mammals may travel long distances between water sources
Mammals may travel long distances between water sources

All mammals need water to stay alive, whether they’re carnivores or herbivores. The thing is that they often travel long distances from one water source to another, so they are not a great indicator for finding water close by. But there are a number of them that never travel far from water, so following a fresh track of a wild pig or any grazing animal will lead you to a fresh water.

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival