- A-Z Animals
A camel is a species of even-toed ungulate easily distinguished by the hump on their back. They are primarily domesticated in the present, with only one species living in the wild. As livestock, these animals provide utility by producing milk and meat. Their hair is even used in the production of fiber, and felt. Camels are working animals suited to their desert habitat. They are an essential means of transport for passengers and cargo, giving them the nickname “ship of the desert”.
Though commonly referred as camels, camellid is the more apt term for them, including not just the camel but all the other seven species belonging to the Camelidae family namely- llama, guanaco, alpaca, and vicuna.
There are 3 species of the camel found nowadays.
Size: Length: 5.9 – 6.6 ft (179.8 – 201.1 cm)
Weight: 660-2200 lb (300 – 1000 kg)
Humps: Most of the world’s camel population have a single hump on their back, which stores excess fat. However, some like the Bactrian camel, have two humps.
Body and Coloration: They have long legs, a snout with big lips, and a recognizable humped back. The male dromedary camel has a big inflatable sac inside its throat called dulla. He often forces it out during the mating season to exhibit his dominance and draw the attention of the female camels. The dulla, long and swollen, resembles a pink tongue sticking out from one side of its mouth.
The body color of most camels is a light brown, becoming lighter closer to the legs. The Bactrian camel is several shades darker than most.
The only species in the wild are the wild bactrian camel found in the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in China and Mongolia. Most of the other species are domesticated, including the Dromedary and Bactrian camels, which are distributed in the Horn of Africa, Maghreb, Middle East, the Sahel, and South Asia.
In some areas where the camel was introduced by settlers or immigrants, they eventually went o to become feral. The most prominent case of this was in Australia, where cameleers from different parts of Asia, like Afghanistan, British India, and Egypt brought their camels to act as load bearing animals. Once motorized equipment was available, these camels were released into the wild, where they adapted to their surroundings and became feral. Currently there are over 700,000 feral camels in Australia.
Camels are suited to a life in the desert, preferring arid regions for inhabitation.
On average, camels live for 40-50 years in the wild.
Herbivorous and not-at-all picky, these animals eat dry leaves, twigs, saltbush, and thorns.
Wild bactrian camels have a single predator – the gray wolf primarily. As for domestic camels, they are sometimes attacked by big cats like lions and leopards.
During mating both the sexes sit on the ground. The male mounts behind his mate, ejaculating 3-4 times in a single session. They are the only ungulates to mate in a sitting position.
After a 12-14 months gestation period, the mother will find a private spot to deliver her young. Usually, only one baby is born, but twins have been spotted sometimes.
The newborn camels, called calves, can walk within half an hour, though mother and child won’t rejoin the herd until two weeks later. They become fully mature when they are 7 years old.
According to the IUCN, the wild bactrian camel is considered “critically endangered” or “CR” and has a decreasing population. Wild camels are among the most endangered large mammals, with fewer than 1,000 of them alive.
A camel’s hump stores fat that works as a food reserve.
Yes, they spit as a form of defense when threatened. The contents don’t just include saliva, but also the contents of their stomach. This acts as a surprising assault on anything annoying them.
No, they are much slower than horses, but they have higher endurance. Camels reach a speed of 25 mph, while horses have an average speed of 25-30 mph, and can potentially run even faster. However, when in hurry, the camels would increase their speed up to 40 mph.
No, camels are not capable of swimming.
The camels first originated in North America, with the original specimens being as small as rabbits.
No, camels do not have hooves. However, there is a hard nail present in their foot that looks like a hoof.
A group of camels is commonly referred to as a caravan.
Yes, camels have a short tail.
Yes, they belong to the same family.