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Bactrian Camel Fact File

Appearance

The wild form of the Bactrian camel is one of the two, two-humped varieties of camel. They share many similarities with the domestic Bactrian camel.

One of the most notable features of the Bactrian camel is their humps. These do not store water as commonly thought but instead hold fat. This can be used to survive off of when food or water is unavailable.

The humps tend to be more erect when they have had abundant food to feed on.

They have thick eyelashes and narrow nostrils which will assist with keeping sand away from the face.

Their body is covered with pale beige or dark brown fur. In winter they have a thicker coat to help keep warm.

At the end of the body is a tail which measures up to 53cm (21in) long.

Their body will measure between 2.5 and 3m (8.5-9.75ft) long with an average weigh of 400-500kg (880-1,100lbs). They stand 2.3m (7.5ft) tall.

Diet

Bactrian camels are herbivores. Their diet includes flowering plants and shrubs.

These animals are the only land animal which is capable of drinking water which is saltier than sea water.

When these animals find water they will drink rapidly to replace what has been lost. In a single session they may consume as much as 110L (24 gallons) in ten minutes.

Bactrian camels may survive for as long as 7 days without water.

To prevent moisture loss they have concentrated urine and do not often sweat.

Bactrian Camel

Scientific Name

Camelus ferus

Conservation Status

Critically Endangered

Weight

400-500kg

(880-1,100lbs)

Length

2.5-3m (8.5-9.75ft)

Height

2.3m (7.5ft)

Lifespan

40 years

Diet

Omnivorous

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Range

Asia is the native home of the Bactrian camel. Here they can be found in China and Mongolia. The species is now considered extinct in Kazakhstan.

Habitat

These animals make their home in rocky mountain massifs, arid desert, stony plains and sand dunes.

Bactrian Camel

Reproduction

Males will compete during a period known as the rut for control of a herd of females. This will involve them puffing out their cheeks, tossing their head back and grinding their teeth.

A single calf will be born after a 406 day gestation period. This calf will suckle milk from the mother for 1-2 years. Typically the birth will occur during the rainy season.

At birth the eyes of the Bactrian camel calf are open and they can run at just a few hours old.

Sexual maturity is reached at 3-4 years old for females and 5-6 years old for males.

Behavior

Unlike other hoofed animals they will carry the load on the sole pads rather than on the hooves. This means only the front of the hoof will touch the ground.

Their broad foot helps them to walk across soft sand without sinking in.

These animals are tolerant to a wide range of temperatures being found in areas with a temperature range between -40 and 55°C (-40 to 131°F).

A herd of Bactrian camels is led by the dominant male with around 30 to 40 females and their young.

Predators and Threats

Despite their large size they may still face predation from wolves.

These animals are considered critically endangered and as few as 1,000 are thought to remain in the wild. Threats they face include industrial development, mining and hunting.

A domesticated Bactrian camel has been tamed and these are used for transport both of goods and people.

An emerging threat which has emerged is hybridization with the domestic Bactrian camel.

They must also compete with the domestic Bactrian camel and goats in parts of their range for grazing and water.

Quick facts

These animals are named after the Bactria region of Central Asia.

Camels originated in the Americas over 46 million years ago before spreading to Asia and eventually going extinct in the Americas.

One group of camels which survive in the wild make their home in a nature reserve which was formerly a nuclear testing site for 45 years.

A group of camels may be referred to as a flock or caravan.

Bactrian Camel

Photo Credits

Middle Two

Alexandr frolov, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

All Others

Under License

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley

Martin, R., Bryan, K., Cooper, D. and Bond, S., n.d. The Animal Book. Lonely Planet.

EDGE of Existence. 2021. Bactrian Camel | EDGE of Existence. [online] Available at: <http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/bactrian-camel/> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

EDGE of Existence. 2021. Bactrian Camel | EDGE of Existence. [online] Available at: <http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/bactrian-camel/#fellows> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

Hare, J. 2008. Camelus ferus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T63543A12689285. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T63543A12689285.en. Downloaded on 02 April 2021.

Encyclopedia Britannica. 2021. camel | Bactrian, Dromedary, & Facts. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/animal/camel> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

Animals. 2021. Bactrian Camel. [online] Available at: <https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/bactrian-camel> [Accessed 2 April 2021]. Denver Zoo. 2021. Bactrian Camel – Denver Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://denverzoo.org/animals/bactrian-camel/> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

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