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Camel

Meet the World's Camels

Camels are a group of two species which are members of the family Camelidae. They share this family with the closely related gunaco and vicuna of South America. These two species have been domesticated to become the llama and alpaca.

Two species of camel are recognized, the dromedary camel and the Bactrian camel. Bactrian camels are further divided in to a domestic and wild variety.

The two species of camel share some similar features including long legs and a long neck as well as the humps.

Dromedary camels have one hump while the Bactrian camel has two humps. Their humps are used to store fat not water as many people believe. The fat will be burned to create energy during times of food scarcity. Once they do this the hump will droop over.

Both species are equipped with long eyelashes which help to keep out sand in their desert environment. Their eye is further protected by a third eyelid that protects against blowing sand. They can close their nostrils to keep sand out.

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Camels are known to spit but when they do this they are actually bringing up their stomach contents which is then mixed with saliva and projected out the mouth. With this they are aiming to distract, surprise or bother a threat. They learn this spitting behavior from other camels and those raised in captivity with other species will not spit.

Camels were used to transport items around and this earned them the nickname, "ships of the desert." It was for this purpose they were brought to Australia. They have also been used for transport and as a source of meat, milk and even wool.

A baby camel is known as a calf. Within 30 minutes of their birth they can walk.

On average a camel will live for 17 years.

The bellow of a camel was used to create the voice of Chewbaca in the Star Wars Movie Franchise.

A group of camels is known as a caravan. These groups tend to consist of a dominant male along with a number of females and their young.

camels

A Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus)

Diet

Camels are herbivores. They feed on a range of plants including thorny plants as they have thick lips. These animals can go several months without food.

Much of the moisture they need comes from their food. They can drink though ingesting as much as 145L (32 gallons) in a single session. They can go a week or more without water.

Range

Camels originated in North America. Today though they can only be found in Africa and Asia. The Bactrian camel lives in Eastern Asia. While the dromedary camel could be found across Northern and Eastern Africa, the Middle East and southern Asia. Dromedary camels are now considered extinct in the wild throughout their natural habitat.

One of the world's largest populations of wild camels can be found in Australia. A number of dromedary camels were released here and now they can be found across much of the interior of the country.

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Dromedary Camel

Dromedary Camel (Camelus dromedarius)

Camel Species – There are two species of camel

  • Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus)

Bactrian camels are the one with two humps. Two types exist the wild and domesticated Bactrian camels.

They reach a length between 2.5 and 3m (8.5-9.75ft) long with an average weight between 450 and 690kg (990-1,520lbs).

The dromedary camel has only a single hump. They are the smaller of the two camel species.

They reach a length between 2.2 and 3.4m (7.25-11ft) and a weight of 450-550kg (990-1,210lbs).

camels

A Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus)

Species Profiles – A detailed fact file on some of the world's camel species

References

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

Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2021. Camel | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/camel> [Accessed 30 January 2021].

livescience.com. 2021. Camels: Facts, Types & Pictures. [online] Available at: <https://www.livescience.com/27503-camels.html> [Accessed 30 January 2021].

Sydenham, Shirley. & Thomas, Ron. 2020. Camels. [online] www.kidcyber.com.au

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