Camels and what we got wrong about them.

Today we are going to be talking about Camels. Camels are Loved by many, idolized by some, and utilized by others. I have always been fascinated by them and at one point in time, wanted one. As Children, we were taught about Camels. However, as this post will prove, we were given some inaccurate information. Please follow me as I re-educate the masses on Camels.

Teachers told us that Camels store water in their humps. The Camels then use that stored water to survive when they are without water. Scientists have proven that this is inaccurate.


While camels can drink as much as 32 gallons of water in less than 15 minutes, the humps on their backs do not hold H2O. Instead, the animals store fat in their odd-looking protrusions, enabling them to traverse the desert for days when food is scarce. Camels can survive a week without drinking water and several months without eating.
An adult camel can store up to 80 pounds of fat in its humps. When the animals tap into the stored nutritional fat, the humps decrease in size and slump to the side.  They become upright again after the camels eat and sleep. The dromedary camel has one hump while the Bactrian camel has two humps.
The reason why camels store fat on their backs and not throughout their bodies may be because the humps are used for insulation and to protect the animals from solar radiation, according to Lunds University in Sweden. Fat conducts heat more gradually than water. Dromedary camels have thick fur on their backs to protect them from the sun’s heat, while the fur is thinner on other parts of their body, allowing heat to escape.
Camels drink a lot of water when they are dehydrated, but they do not store water to use later on. Their bodies are built to conserve liquid. They urinate infrequently, and their pee is very concentrated. A camel’s droppings are also very dry.
Camels have the ability to function with body temperatures over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and they don’t sweat or pant like other animals, who lower their temperature by using water from their bodies. Camels cool down at night when temperatures drop. The desert-dwelling animals aren’t impervious to the heat, but they can lose 30 to 40 percent of their body weight in water and still ward off dehydration. In addition, the mammal uses the air that it inhales and exhales to create water vapor.
Whatever you do, try to avoid being spit on by a camel. Their spit is a mix of saliva and the contents of their stomachs—basically, vomit. They spit when threatened, and the telltale sign is puffy cheeks (so get out of the way!) They also have powerful breath because they regurgitate their food like cows.
Camels also have other interesting abilities. Their super-long eyelashes and inner eyelids protect their peepers from desert sand. They can also close their nostrils to prevent sand from entering their bodies.
Camels are vocal animals who make lots of noises and make various gestures with their heads, necks, ears, and tails to communicate with the herd. They also blow into each other’s faces as a way of greeting one another. Baby camels are born without humps.
Two-humped camels are critically endangered. One named Zehra was born at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio in 2018 and was the first Bactrian camel to be born in captivity in recent history. This species of Camel is indigenous to Central and East Asia, and there are reportedly just under 1,000 currently in existence.


The Above Quotes were taken directly from RIPLEY’S article titled “IF CAMEL HUMPS DON’T CONTAIN WATER, WHAT’S INSIDE?”

Camels: Facts, Types & Pictures

Camels are mammals with long legs, a big-lipped snout and a humped back. There are two types of camels: dromedary camels, which have one hump, and Bactrian camels, which have two humps. Camels’ humps consist of stored fat, which they can metabolize when food and water is scarce.
In addition to their humps, camels have other ways to adapt to their environment. They have a third, clear eyelid that protects their eyes from blowing sand. Two rows of long lashes also protect their eyes. Sand up the nose can be a problem, but not for camels. They can shut their nostrils during sand storms.
Humans have used camels as a means of transport for thousands of years. They can carry about 375 to 600 lbs. (170 to 270 kilograms) on their backs, according to National Geographic. This earned these beasts of burden a nickname, “ships of the desert.” Domestic camels are often the main source of meat, milk and even leather or wool products.
Most camels tower above humans. A Bactrian camel, according to the San Diego Zoo, grows to a shoulder height of 6 feet (1.8 meters) and a body length of 10 feet (3 m). They normally weigh 1,320 to 2,200 lbs. (600 to 1,000 kg) when they are fully grown.
Dromedary camels get up to about 6.5 feet (2 m) tall at the shoulder and weigh 880 to 1,325 lbs. (400 to 600 kg).
Camels aren’t picky about what they eat. Their thick lips allow them to eat things that most other animals couldn’t, such as thorny plants. Camels are herbivores, though, so you won’t find them eating meat.
Filling up on water, when it’s available, is very important for camels. They can drink 30 gallons (113 liters) of water in just 13 minutes. Their bodies rehydrate faster than any other mammal.
When there is little food and water, the camel’s hump fat releases water; 9.3 grams of fat releases 1.13 grams of water, according to research by the University of Singapore. Camels can survive up to six months without food or water.
The two types of camel are found in different parts of the world. The dromedary camel, also called an Arabian camel, can be found in North Africa and the Middle East. The Bactrian camel lives in Central Asia. No matter the type, camels are usually found in the desert, prairie or steppe. Though many people think that camels only live in hot climates, they do well in temperature ranges from 20 degrees F (minus 29 degrees C) to 120 degrees F (49 degrees C).
Camels like to stay together in groups called herds. The herds are led by a dominant male, while many of the other males form their own herd called a bachelor herd. Camels are very social and like to greet each other by blowing in each other’s faces.
After a gestation of 12 to 14 months, a mother camel will find a private spot to have her young. Female camels usually only have one baby, but sometimes camels have twins.
Baby camels are called calves. The newborn calf is able to walk within 30 minutes, though the two won’t rejoin the herd until around two weeks later. Camels become fully mature when they are 7 years old. Camels live around 17 years.

Classification/ Taxonomy
Dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) and the domestic Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) were named in 1758 by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus, who only knew of the domestic variety. Wild Bactrian camels (Camelus ferus) were discovered in 1878 by Nikolai Prejevalsky, a Russian geographer who explored Mongolia and Tibet.
For many years, the wild Bactrian was thought to be a subspecies of the domestic Bactrian. However, in recent years, DNA analysis confirmed that C. ferus was a separate species, according to the San Diego Zoo. The main difference between the two species is that the wild Bactrian has three more chromosome pairs than the domestic Bactrian.
Here is the classification of camels, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System:

· Kingdom: Animalia

· Subkingdom: Bilateria

·Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia

· Phylum: Chordata

·Subphylum: Vertebrata

·Infraphylum: Gnathostomata

·Superclass: Tetrapoda

· Class: Mammalia

·Subclass: Theria

·  Infraclass: Eutheria

· Order: Artiodactyla

·Family: Camelidae

·  Genus: Camelus


· Camelus bactrianus (Bactrian camel)

·Camelus dromedarius (one-humped camel)

·  Camelus bactrianus bactrianus

·  Camelus bactrianus ferus (wild Bactrian camel)
Other facts

· Camels can run at 25 mph (40 kph) for long periods. If their owner is in a hurry, they can kick their speed up to 40 mph (67 kph).

· The camel’s hump is like a storage container. When camels use their stored fat, their hump will diminish. When they eat and drink again the hump will refill with fat.

·  Camels have oval-shaped red blood cells that help continue blood flow during times when water is scarce.

· Camels are known for spitting on people. In fact, the animals are throwing up the contents of their stomach along with spit. This is a defense tactic when the animals feel threatened.

Camels: Facts, Types & Pictures
By Alina Bradford, Live Science Contributor | July 11, 2017

The above quote was taken from Live Science’s article titled,” Camels: Facts, Types & Pictures”.

Photo taken from National Geographic

Arabian Camel (Dromedary)


Woolly coat, caramel in color that often looks shaggy from seasonal shedding. Both sexes have a single hump on the back.
Male: Males are considerably larger than females and have an inflatable soft palate which they use to attract females. (It looks like a frog’s throat when inflated.)


Shoulder Height: 1.8 to 2.3 m (5.8 to 7.5 ft.) Body length: 3 m (10 ft.)


300 to 690 kg (661 to 1,521 lbs.)


Desert vegetation


12 to 14 months; weaned at 1 to 2 years

Sexual Maturity

Male: at 5 years
Female: at 3 to 4 years

Life Span

Around 40 years


The Dromedary Camel can be found in North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and India; introduced to Australia and Namibia


Arid and semi-arid regions


Global: 15 million; largest populations are in Somalia (7 million) and Sudan (4 million); Ethiopia and Kenya also have substantial population.


IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. The Dromedary camel is capable of drinking 100 L (30 gal.) of water in just 10 minutes.
  2. Dromedary Camels can tolerate water loss equal to over 30% of their body weight.
  3. Camel’s store fat in the hump, not water. They are born without a hump because the layer of fat does not develop until they eat solid food.
  4. Dromedary Camels may browse for 6 to 8 hours every day.
  5. Unlike most mammals, a healthy camel’s body temperature fluctuates throughout the day from 34°C to 41.7°C (93°F to 107°F.) This fluctuation is important because it allows the camel to conserve water by not sweating as the environmental temperature rises.
  6. The Dromedary camel is no longer considered a wild animal. In Africa and Arabia, it is a semi-domesticated animal that free ranges but is under the control of herders.
  7. Dromedary Camels may be occasionally preyed upon by wolves.
  8. The Dromedary Camel is no longer considered a wild animal. In Africa and Arabia, it is a semi-domesticated animal that free ranges but is under the control of herders.

(Sea World)

A critically endangered bactrian camel, Camelus bactrianus, at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.

Bactrian camel

Two Humps
Bactrian camels have two humps – like the letter “B”. The humps are used to store fat that converts to energy when needed. Bactrian camels are shorter and heavier than the one-humped dromedary camels found in Africa and the Middle East.

Big Gulp
Camels have a remarkable ability to survive for long periods (months!) without any water. When camels drink they can drink up to 35 gallons of water at a time. To keep moisture in their body, camels do not sweat very much, and they also have very concentrated urine.

“Ships of the Desert”
Bactrian camels have long eyelashes in double rows and a third eyelid which acts as a windshield wiper to wash sand or dirt out of their eyes. Their nostrils can close to provide protection from blowing sand. Their broad, flat feet have leathery pads and two toes on each foot which helps prevent them from sinking into sand or snow.

Bactrian camels are up to 10 feet (3.0 m) long.
Weigh 1300-2200 pounds (590-1000 kg).
Wild Bactrian camels are smaller and more slender.
Their fur color varies from beige to dark brown.
They have thick, wooly coats that provide warmth during the cold months and insulation from the desert heat, and they shed this for the summer months. Bactrian camels have two humps on the back.

What Does It Eat?
In the wild: Thorny plants, and plants that are salty, bitter and prickly.
At the zoo: Hay and a grain mixture.

(Denver Zoo)

In the wild what do they eat?
“Bactrian camels are omnivores, but are primarily herbivores that constantly graze on grasses. As ruminants, these camels have four separate stomachs, one of which is a three-chambered ruminating stomach. Ruminants eat their food followed by regurgitation, allowing them to chew it up a second time.
Camels thrive on all desert vegetation, which includes salty, dry, thorny, and bitter plants. Halophytic plants, which are plants that have been growing in water with a high saline concentration, are a necessary part of Bactrian camel’s diet. Their dietary needs and preferences make them ideal candidates for desert life.
In times of environmental stress (little/no available vegetation), camels may eat fish, different types of flesh, bones, skin, and even shoes or other items of fabric. In the winter months, camels often push and dig under the snow to find food, a practice observed only in Bactrian camels”. (Animal Diversity)

Animal Diversity Web
Camelus bactrianusBactrian camel

Cutshall, E. 2017. “Camelus bactrianus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 02, 2019 at

‘What Eats It?

Wolves prey on the Bactrian camel.


Domestic camels travel in groups of up to 20 individuals. The groups are led by a dominant male and include several females, sub-adults and young.


Camels are sexually mature by five years. Mating occurs year-round. After a gestation of 12-15 months females give birth to a single calf weighing up to 100 pounds (45 kg). Calves can stand soon after birth, are weaned at one to two years and stay with the mother until they reach maturity. Life span of the domestic Bactrian camel is approximately 40 years.


  • Camels can walk up to 30 miles a day
  • Bactrian camels are the largest animals in the desert
  • These camels can survive in temperatures ranging from 122 degrees to minus 20 degrees.
  • Bactrian camels provide nomads in Asia with wool, meat, and milk. They also carry heavy loads and provide transportation.
  • The humps of a Bactrian camel store fat, they do not store water!” (Denver Zoo)

Camels are celebrated as an authentic symbol of the desert lifestyle of the people of the Arabian Peninsula. They are connected to Arabs’ history and life throughout the ages. When the Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula relied heavily on nature, the camels were strongly present in their daily routines. With modern urbanization, the Arabs did not get along without camels. In the past, camels were mates, now, they become basic icons of Arab heritage, life and economy.

Many people of the Arabian Peninsula, thus, have taken the camel as a symbol of their lives; with the camel, they have recalled the memory of the place and revived its full characteristics. Hence, the camel has become an ever-existing heritage mate. In addition, it provides them with food resources such as meat, milk, and leather as well as with a renewable economic resource.

Throughout the history of Arabian Peninsula, camel breeders have their own characteristics that distinguish them from others. The most prominent characteristics are that of pride of their dispositions and their trust in camels as animals involved in their schemes of pride and glory that they sing praises for.

Being highly interested in camels, only Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula more than others, can recognize the qualities of the camels and deal with their peculiar characteristics. So, they differ in their attitude towards this animal. Only Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula can distinguish between camels as they have special criteria according to which they describe camels”. (Alaibil Festival )

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Camels in the News

A Dozen Camels Disqualified From Saudi Beauty Pageant Over Botox Injections


January 24, 2018

Some pageant contestants hit a hump in the road this week. That is, a camel beauty contest in Saudi Arabia disqualified a dozen camels for receiving Botox injections to make them more attractive.

Saudi media reported that a veterinarian was caught performing plastic surgery on the camels a few days before the pageant, according to UAE’s The National. In addition to the injections, the clinic was surgically reducing the size of the animals’ ears to make them appear more delicate.

“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” Ali Al Mazrouei, a regular at such festivals and the son of a prominent Emirati breeder, told the newspaper. “It makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes it’s like, ‘Oh look at how big that head is. It has big lips, a big nose.’ “

Real money is at stake: About $57 million is awarded to winners of the contests and camel races, The National reports, with more than $31.8 million in prizes for just the pageants.

The festival provides a number of informative graphics about camels, including a diagram titled Standards of Camel Beauty. It is sadly unspecific about what makes for handsome nostrils and withers, though it does mention a “leathery mouth.”

The beauty contest, launched in 2000, is a centerpiece of the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival. Last year, authorities moved the festival from a remote location in the desert to a site an hour and a half from Riyadh, and this year attendance has increased by a third, according to Reuters.

“The camel,” the chief judge of the show, Fawzan al-Madi, told the newswire, “is a symbol of Saudi Arabia. We used to preserve it out of necessity, now we preserve it as a pastime.”

Australia Exporting Camels for Saudi Diners

“The ranchers of Oz gained the most obvious, but perhaps unlikely of customers when they shipped 119 animals from the northern port city of Darwin to the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi camels are the equivalent of thoroughbreds, he said, while the ones in Australia are like draft horses. Both countries’ camels are the dromedary, one-humped camels. The Bactrian, or two-humped camels are found mostly in Central Asia. But there’s very little difference in the taste of the animals — thoroughbred or draft, Bactrian or Dromedary, Seidel said. “It’s all very much the same.”

The camel has always been part of the traditional Muslim diet. Every year, hundreds of thousands of camels are slaughtered during the Muslim pilgrimage, or Hajj, in Mecca. The Saudis traditionally imported camels from North Africa, but various factors, including disease, drought and political instability led them to look elsewhere. Plus, Seidel said, Australia has the world’s only remaining herds of wild camel. In the rest of the world, camels are domesticated and managed in private herds.

Today, Australia has a population of 500,000 camels. In some places, they’re becoming a nuisance. But Seidel’s organization has found a market for them. Most of his ranchers ship their animals to neighboring Muslim countries like Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. The city of Minneapolis, on the windswept plains of the Midwest, contains America’s largest population of Somalis. And the Somalis, overwhelmingly Muslim, from a land just across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia, love their camel.

Randy Weinstein, of RW Meats in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, provides most of the stores in the area with their supply — from Australia as well. At the wholesale price of $3.50 per pound, camel is a specialty meat — expensive compared to other traditional favorites, like goat, which costs about $1.20 per pound, Weinstein said. But for the Somalis, he said, “it’s a taste of home.” It’s not only the local Somali population that goes for the camel, he said. Minneapolis-area Ethiopians are also big consumers, as well as Saudi Arabian Arabs. He said he hardly saw any Lebanese, Iraqis or Egyptians partake. Camel meat tastes like beef but it is quite a bit tougher, he said. “You’ve got to roast it and cook the hell out of it,” he said, comparing it to preparing a piece of beef brisket. Unfortunately, people often make the mistake of treating it like goat, he said, which takes much less cooking time to make tender. The cuts of camel are no different than the cuts of a steer. There’s a tenderloin, a flank steak, a rump roast. Much of the rest of the camel is also used in the same way as beef. They have hides for leather, udders for milk, Weinstein said. The main thing that distinguishes camels — their hump — is used as well, he said. The hump is a piece of solid white fat and provides the animal with sustenance when food is scarce, Seidel said. Weinberg said it appears like a hump of gristle or tendon and is eaten. “The Arabs like the hump but only if it’s fresh,” he said. “Unless it’s like just been slaughtered yesterday, they don’t want it.” (ABC News)

Camel Meat and where you can try some

Camel meat is surprisingly easy to find in Minneapolis, sold not only at Holy Land and most halal grocery stores in the city, but as a popular burger at Safari Express in Midtown Global Market. Starting in February, its sister restaurant, Safari, is adding camel to the menu, according to owner, Abdi Ahmed. (City Pages)

Can I buy it online?

Yes, Camel meat can be purchased online and delivered right to your door. The biggest shipper of Camel meat that I could find was, exotic meat markets. The meat is available in the same cuts as Steaks.  For 2 pounds of ground Camel meat, you will pay $29.99. If you are interested, you can browse the link below. (Exotic Markets)

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