Baby camels are born without humps. They are however able to run within hours of birth. They call to their mothers with a lamb-like “baa” sound. Mother and child camel pairings are extremely close, staying together for several years.
Amazing Facts About the Camel
We all know camels for their distinctive humps and fascinating ability to survive weeks to months without drinking, but did you know they can run at up to 40 mph (65kph)? They are desert-dwelling animals that are now mostly domesticated, with very few still free to roam wild. In fact, they play such an important role in Arabic communities that there are over 100 words for camel in the Arabic language!
Why do some camels have one hump and others two?
They are two different species. Asian camels, known as Bactrian camels, have two humps, while Arabian camels, known as Dromedary camels, have one.
How many species of camel are there?
There are three species of camel alive today: Dromedary, Bactrian, and wild Bactrian. Dromedary and Bactrian are both domesticated. Wild Bactrian camels make up only a small percentage of the world’s camel population and are critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They inhabit desert areas of China and Mongolia.
What is inside a camel’s hump?
It’s not water – it’s fat! When food is hard to find, camels can break down the fat in their humps as a source of nutrition.
Fun fact: If a camel has not eaten in a while, its humps may droop as the fat stores start to empty! They will stand up straight again once they find food and restock their fat supply.
Storing fat in this way also helps with controlling body temperature. By storing fat in humps instead of elsewhere on their bodies, they reduce their heat insulation which helps keep them cool during the hot desert days.
How do camels survive without water?
Now we know camel humps are not full of water; how do camels survive without drinking for days at a time?
Their bodies are well adapted to store water, and when they drink, they drink a lot. In fact, a thirsty camel can drink around 30 gallons at a time! That means they take on a lot and lose very little through urine, faeces and things like sweating – despite the high temperature, they rarely sweat!
They are also able to lose up to 40% of their body weight without a problem!
What adaptations help camels live in the desert?
Apart from their humps and ability to go for long periods without food and water, camels have many adaptations to help them live in the hot sandy desert.
- Long eyelashes help to keep sand out of their eyes.
- They can close their nostrils to stop sand from going up their noses.
- Their ears are small and covered in hair to prevent sand and dust from getting in.
- Wide feet and thick leathery pads help them to walk on the hot sand and keep them from sinking.
- Thick lips allow them to eat prickly plants easily without hurting themselves.
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Herbivore
- Life span: 45 years
- Size: 1.5–2.1 m
- Weight: 660 to 2,200 lb
- Habitat: Desert
- Range: Africa, Middle-East and Asia
- Scientific name: Camelus Spp.