Learn All About Camels

Camels have been domesticated for more than 3,000 years and have become an integral part of transportation in arid environments.

With the ability to carry 200 pounds while traveling 20 miles, the camel is an animal that deserves profound respect.

What You Should Know

A dromedary camel, otherwise known as the Arabian camel is a domesticated animal. 90% of the world’s camels today are dromedaries. They are found in harsh, desert environments. With the ability to travel as fast as horses and endure long stretches without food or water, they are real survivalists.

As the camel stores less food, the hump size changes. The amount of time that a camel can go without eating or drinking depends on its activity level and climate. Some camels go longer than a week without water and several months without eating. Then, it can drink up to 32 gallons of water at once.

The camel isn’t picky about its diet. With its thick lips, camels eat items that other animals cannot. Because they are herbivores, you won’t catch them with meat in their mouth, but you might see one eating a thorny plant.

Humans use camels for transportation, leather, wool, milk, meat and dung for fuel.

What Sound Do They Make?

Camels make many sounds, including grunting and bellowing. Often, they resemble a lamb or goat noise, but can also be known to roar loudly.

Hear the strange and unusual sounds that come from a camel.

Group Characteristics

Camels prefer to stay in a group or herd. A dominant male leads the herd. Other males move on and form what’s known as a bachelor herd. The camel is a social animal and is often seen greeting others by blowing in their faces.

A wild camel will migrate across vast distances to find salt water and graze. They survive extreme temperature fluctuations from -29° Fahrenheit to 120° Fahrenheit.

The female camel endures a gestation of 12 to 14 months. When the mother is ready to birth her young, she finds a quiet, private location. Typically, the female only births one live baby, but there are occurrences of twins. The baby camel is known as a calf. Within 30 minutes, this calf walks, though the baby and mom don’t rejoin the herd for two weeks. When the camel is seven years old, it’s considered fully mature and it will live to around 17 years old.

How Many are There?

The wild camel is considered endangered with only about 950 left in Mongolia and China. As far as the domesticated variety, there’s an estimated 1.4 million in the world.

Natural predators do exist to the camel, including the wolf. Wild camels face more danger from human hunters and will go extinct if people continue to kill them.

Watch a Video

There’s a great documentary available to learn more about the camel.

In this video, you can learn more about the Dromedary Camel & Bactrian Camel.

Pop Culture

Camels have an important role in movies that take place in the desert. You will see featured in popular movies such as The Mummy, The Scorpion King, Sahara, Jarhead and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Joe Camel (was the advertising mascot for Camel cigarettes from 1987 until 1997.

Zoos across the country feature camels on display for the purpose of educating and conservation.

Interesting Facts

A dromedary camel features one hump while the Bactrian species has two. To remember the names easily, simply think of the letter D on its side – it has one hump. The letter B on its side has two humps.

Camels do spit and it’s not a pleasant experience to be around. Because of their size, camel spit is more like vomit. Everything in its stomach comes up with the saliva. You can tell the camel is about to spit when it bulges its cheeks.