- Camels are even-toed ungulates that have one or two humps. The one-humped camel, or dromedary camel, is found in the Arabian deserts of the Middle East and North Africa, while the two-humped camel, or Bactrian camel, is native to the Gobi Desert in China and the Bactrian steppes of Mongolia.
- Another camel lives in Australia. They are feral, or wild, camels and they were dromedary camels that were imported to provide transportation. They have become a pest because they are eating the natural vegetation.
- The camel is related to the alpaca, llama, guanaco and vicuna.
- There is a wild Bactrian camel that is at extreme risk of becoming extinct.
- Camels were domesticated more than 3,500 years ago. Many people still depend on these “ships of the desert” for transportation. They can carry over 200 pounds for 20 miles in the hot desert heat.
- Camels have adapted to the hot, dry desert climate very nicely. Their thick coat also reflects sunlight, which helps to keep it from overheating. The camel has long legs that also helps to keep their bodies farther away from the hot ground.
- Camels have a double row of very long eyelashes and a clear inner eyelid which protects the eye from sandstorms while still letting in enough light for camels to see.
- They also have hairs in the opening of the ear to help stop blowing sand from filling up their ears.
- Camels can also close their nostrils.
- Camels do not store water in their humps. The hump is actually a reservoir of fatty tissue. When this tissue is metabolized, it acts as a source of energy, and yields more than 1 gallon of water for each 1 gallon of fat that is converted.
- The camels kidneys and intestine are able to hold water and because of this ability, the camel can live in very dry and hot climates and go without water for long periods of time.
- When camels walk they move both legs on one side of their body and then the other. Their feet are also flat and wide. Both of these features help them from sinking into the sand.
- Camels are powerful runners and can reach the speed of 40 miles per hour in a short burst, which is as fast as a horse. They can cruise along at 25 miles per hour when running for a distance.
- Bactrian camels grow a shaggy coat in the winter to protect them from the freezing cold. Then, in the extremely hot summer, they shed their coats. They can survive from minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 29 degrees Celsius) in the winter to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) in the summer.
- Camels can grow to be 7 feet tall at the hump. The hump itself can be 30 inches tall and they can live to be 80 years old.
- Camels don’t really spit but are actually bringing the contents of their stomach along with saliva and project it out. They do this to scare or distract whatever it is that is threatening them.
- Camels can make a lot of noise. They can moan, groan, bleat, bellow and roar. They also make a rumbling growl.
- Camels are herbivores. Because they live in the dessert, they have to be able to eat desert plants. Thorny cacti would cause other animals a great deal of difficulty.
- Humans have used camels for their wool, milk, meat, leather, and even dung that can be used for fuel. Camel milk is an important food of the desert nomadic tribes. A camel can provide a large amount of meat for these people also. The camel’s hump is considered a delicacy in these cultures.
- A mother camel gives birth in 12 – 14 months to one calf. When the calf is born it weighs 80 pounds and is most often pure white. It takes the calf several hours before it can stand up.
- Male camels reach maturity between 6 and 8 years. Females reach maturity in 3 years.
A camel is an even-toed ungulate which has the characteristic hump, or humps, on its back. They were domesticated over 3,500 years ago and have been used for transportation ever since. Below are some interesting facts and information about camels.
Download the Camel Worksheet
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