Are you interested in learning some interesting facts about the camel? Although this animal may seem boring for some, its body has amazing features! They may not be fierce predators, but the incredible way in which their bodies function to adapt to harsh environments is simply fascinating. So get comfortable and enjoy the information we have for you this time!
Camels are ungulates that can live up to 50 years. Their most distinctive characteristic most of us know is the “humps” they have on their backs. These humps have an important role for them: storing fat that can be turned into water. Something very useful as they usually live in deserted areas.
Depending on the camel species, their general characteristics can vary a lot. In general, the weight of a camel can go from 300 to 1,000 kg, and its height can go up to 2.15 m if we include their humps.
Even if their habitats tend to be desserts, camels have thick coats. Instead of making them hot, coats protect them from the sun and avoid sweating in excess. This way, more water is kept in their bodies, and they avoid dehydration.
Camels live in deserts, an area for which their bodies have adapted. They can be found in certain areas of Africa and Asia. Most of them live in the Horn of Africa, a peninsula that contains the countries of Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea. They are especially important in Ethiopia and Somalia, as they represent a source of food and transportation.
They can also be found in Australia. The population of camels there is of 700,000. They were introduced in Australia two centuries ago with the purpose of being used as transportation.
As you may already imagine, deserts are not exactly full of thousands of options to eat. This means that camels will eat any plant they can find, but only plants because they are herbivores. To survive in the desert, camels have two useful abilities: they can recognize poisonous plants and they can eat plants with thorns. Camels can even eat pointed cactuses because their mouths have a thick layer that let them process thorns.
Interesting Facts about the Camel
1. There are three species of camels, and one is critically endangered.
Nowadays we only have three species of camels. The first one is the dromedary, which is the most common. More than 90% of camels worldwide belong to this species. Then there’s the Bactrian camel. The main difference between them is that dromedaries only have one hump and Bactrian camels have two.
The third species is the Wild Bactrian camel. It is estimated that there are only 1,400 of them, which makes it a critically endangered species. They live in China and Mongolia.
2. There are “New World” camels.
“New World” camels can be found in South America. Along with the Old World camels (the three species mentioned previously), they share a common ancestor, the Protylopus. Their ancestor lived on Earth 40 million years ago, and their descendants spread in two areas: South America and Asia. Those who went to South America evolved into the animals we can see today. New World camels are the llama, the vicuña, the guanaco and the alpaca.
3. They are experts at storing water!
Camels know they won’t be able to find water for a long period of time, so their bodies use water in a really intelligent way. Their humps have fatty tissue than they turn into water. Each gram of fat equals a potential gram of water.
Their coats help them avoid sweating and become lighter to reflect the sun rays. When they breathe, the water that evaporates at exhaling is reabsorbed. They even have a special system to control the temperature of the brain!
4. When they finally drink water, they drink a lot.
Camels usually spend several days without drinking water, sometimes even weeks. However, once they find a water source, they are able to consume 200 L of it. This is the equivalent of 53 gallons, and all of that in just a matter of minutes! This happens because their blood cells have a different shape which allows them to drink a larger amount of water.
5. They also adapted to sandy environments.
To avoid being bothered by sand, the features of their faces adapted to protect them. Their nostrils can close to avoid sand entering the nose. They also have a third eyelid and longer eyelashes to protect the eyes.
6. Camels were important for nomads.
The camel is a domesticated animal which was useful for nomads in many ways. Nowadays, they are very important in Ethiopia and Somalia. Besides using them as transportation, camels are a good source of food. Their meat is often consumed and their milk can be turned into butter and cheese. Camels were also used for military purposes, and their coats were used to make clothes, accessories, tents, and bedding.
I hope that you enjoyed learning more about camel facts. If you want to know about other animals, visit animal facts!