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Camel

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What is a Camel?

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A Camel is a large, long-necked, ungulate mammal with slender legs, big cushioned feet, and one or two humps on the back. The interesting facts about camels are that they can survive without food or water for long periods, mostly by using up the fat reserves in their humps.


Scientific Classification of Camel

In this section, we will learn about various features of camels such as Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order and Genus.

  • Camel belongs to Kingdom Animalia.

  • The Phylum is Chordata.

  • The Class of the camel is Mammalia.

  • The Order is Artiodactyla.

  • Camel belongs to the family Camelidae.

  • The scientific name of camels is Camelus.

Camel Information

In this section, we discuss briefly characteristics of camels such as height, weight, speed and lifespan.

  • A full-grown adult dromedary camel height is 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) from the shoulder and at 2.15 m (7 ft 1 in) from the hump.

  • The average camel weight is 300-1000 Kg.

  • Camels can run at up to a speed of 65 km/h (40 mph).

  • The growing toes on the hoof of a camel provide additional traction for different soil sediments.

  • An average camel lifespan is 40 to 50 years.

Anatomy of a Camel

In this section, we will study about camel anatomy. The parts of camel are as follows:

  • Forehead

  • Nose

  • Ears

  • Mouth

  • Cheek

  • Neck

  • Gauntlet

  • Shoulder

  • Withers

  • Hump

  • Spine

  • Hip

  • Tail

  • Thigh

  • Hock

  • Legs

  • Archangel

  • Arm

  • Knee

  • Stomach

  • Udder

  • Chest

  • Stifle

The mouths of the camels have a thick leathery covering, which allows them to chew thorny desert plants. A barrier against the sand is created by long eyelashes and ear hair, along with nostrils that can close. They will dislodge it using their translucent third eyelid if sand gets stuck in their eyes. The gait and extended feet of the camels help them walk without falling into the sand.


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Types of Camels

There are three extant camel species living in the world currently.

1. Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus)

  • Also known as the Mongolian camel or domestic Bactrian camel, the Bactrian camel is a large, even-toed ungulate native to the Central Asian steppes. Their name is derived from the historical ancient region of Bactria.

  • In comparison to the single-humped dromedary camel, it has two humps on its back.

  • Its two million population exists predominantly in the domesticated form.

  • Since ancient times, domesticated Bactrian camels have acted as pack animals in Inner Asia.

  • Bactrian camels are resistant to cold, drought, and high altitudes.

  • Bactrian camels have a remarkable ability to go without water sometimes for months at a time, but they can drink up to 57 litres at once when water is available.

  • Bactrian camels are also said to be great swimmers.

  • The sense of sight is well-formed and Bactrian camels have an exceptionally strong sense of smell.

  • It is estimated that the average Bactrian camel lifespan is up to 50 years, sometimes 20 to 40 years in captivity.

  • The Bactrian camel is the largest living camel.

  • The height of the shoulders is 180 to 230 cm (5.9 to 7.5 ft), the length of the head and neck is 225-350 cm (7.38-11.48 ft), and the length of the tail is 35-55 cm (14-22 in). The average height at the top of the humps is 213 cm (6.99 ft).

  • Bactrian camel weight varies between 300 and 1,000 kg, and males are often much larger and heavier than females.

  • The colour of its long, woolly coat ranges from dark brown to sandy beige. There is a long-hair mane and beard on the neck and throat, with hair up to 25 cm (9.8 in) long.


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2. Arabian Camel or Dromedary (Camelus dromedarius)

  • Also known as the Arabian camel or desert camel, the dromedary is a large, even-toed ungulate of the Camelus genus, with a hump on its back.

  • It is the tallest of the three camel species, adult male camel height is between 1.8-2 m (5.9-6.6 ft), while female camel height is 1.7-1.9 m (5.6-6.2 ft).

  • Typically, males weigh 400 to 600 kg, and females weigh 300 to 540 kg.

  • Its long, curved body, narrow chest, single hump, and long hair on the throat, shoulders, and hump are distinctive features of Dromedary species.

  • The coat is a shade of brown in general.

  • The hump is made of fat bound together by fibrous tissue, 20 cm high or more.

  • During daylight hours, dromedaries are primarily active.

  • They form herds of approximately 20 males, led by a dominant male.

  • This camel feeds on foliage and desert plants, allowing it to survive in its desert habitat through many adaptations, such as the ability to withstand losing more than 30% of its total water content.

  • In the semi-arid to arid regions of the Old World, mostly in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the domesticated dromedary is usually found, and a large feral population exists in Australia.


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3. Wild Bactrian Camel (Camelus Ferus)

  • A critically endangered species of camel living in parts of northwestern China and southwestern Mongolia is the wild Bactrian camel.

  • It is closely related to the camel of Bactria (Camelus bactrianus). They are both big, double-humped, even-toed ungulates native to the Central Asian steppes.

  • Today, only around 1,000 camels survive. Most live in China's Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve, and a smaller population lives in Mongolia's Strictly Protected Great Gobi Forest.


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There are 6 Camel species that are extinct. All these extinct camel species are found in fossil form.

  • Camelus gigas 

  • Camelus grattardi

  • Camelus knoblochi

  • Camelus moreli 

  • Camelus sivalensis 

  • Camelus thomasi 

Camel Habitat

In this section, we will discuss the special features of camel habitat.

  • Camels live in deserts that are hot and dry. Camels have adapted to deserts and found ways to help them survive.

  • They have a thick coat of hair that keeps them warm at night and protects them from the sun during the day.

  • When they walk, their broad feet spread their weight over the sand.

  • A camel will eat and drink large quantities of it when there is food and water and store it in the hump as fat.

  • Then the camel uses the fat for energy when there is no food or water, and the hump becomes small and fluffy.

  • The excretory waste from a camel contains very little water. Even the water from the breath of a camel flows back into his mouth.

  • The camels have bushy eyebrows that, in a sandstorm, do not let the sand go into their paws.

  • In order to reach high leaves, such as palm trees, and rubbery areas on the belly and knees, camels have a long slender neck to shield the skin when kneeling and sitting on the hot sand.

  • A camel has a temperature control that is naturally adapted to change its body temperature by six degrees Celsius either way.

  • To secure the camel's skin is crucial in emergencies such as a sandstorm, it has two sets of eyelashes, closing muscles in the nasal passages with slit nostrils, hairy ears and rough, leathery skin.

  • To eat dry, prickly plants, camels have thick rubbery lips and a big, haired tail to swat pests such as mosquitos and flies.

Camel Breeds

In this section, we will study different types of camel breeds.

1. Afar Dromedary

These Camel breeds are commonly found in Somalia.

2. Alxa Bactrian Camels

These camel breeds are bi-humped, Bactrian type. They are mainly found in north and northwest China.

3. Arvana Dromedary

These camel breeds are found in all parts of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Southern districts of Kazakhstan, Turkey, Northern Iran and Afghanistan,

4. Kalmyk Bactrian Camels

These camel breeds have a great capacity for carrying loads because of their well-developed skeleton, musculature and hair cover. These Kalmyk Bactrian Camel breeds are found primarily in the Kalmyk ASSR, Astrakhan region of RSFSR and in Guryev, Mangyshlak, Ural and Kyzyl-Orda regions of the Kazakh SSR.

5. Somali Dromedary

As the name suggests these Somali Dromedary camel breeds are found throughout Somalia.

6. Sonid Bactrian Camels

These camels are mainly found in the high plains, deserts and semi-deserts of north and northwest China.

Some of the Camel Breeds Found in India are as Follows:

  • Bikaneri

  • Jodhpuri

  • Nachna

  • Jaisalmeri

  • Kutchi

  • Jalori

  • Mewari

  • Gomat

  • Gurha

  • Kherupal

  • Alwari

Uses of Camel

Travelling

  • Camels are generally referred to as “Ships of the desert”. 

  • More than 3,000 years ago, camels were domesticated and, to this day, humans rely on them for transport through arid environments. 

  • When walking 32 kilometres a day in the harsh desert, they can comfortably bear an additional 90 kilograms. 

  • Camels can travel as quickly as horses, but without food or water, they can also withstand legendary time periods.

Clothing

  • For tents, yurts, garments, bedding and accessories, desert tribes and Mongolian nomads use camel fur. 

  • Camels have soft inner down and outer guard hairs, and the fibres are sorted by the animal's colour and age. For herdsmen, the guard hair can be felt for use as waterproof coats, while the softer hair is used for luxury items. 

  • The fibre can be spun for weaving or turned into hand knitting or crocheting yarns.

Military Uses

  • Armed forces have used camel cavalry in conflicts throughout Africa, the Middle East, and India's modern-day Border Security Force (BSF).

  • The first recorded use of camel cavalry occurred in 853 BC at the Battle of Qarqar.

  • Instead of horses and mules, armies have also used camels as freight animals.

Dairy

  • Camel milk is a staple food of desert nomadic tribes, and sometimes a nomad will survive on camel milk alone for almost a month as a meal.

  • Camel milk can be made into yoghurt easily, but can only be made into butter if it is first soured, churned, and then added to a clarifying agent.

  • Camel milk can be processed into the ice cream as well.

Meat

  • Worldwide, roughly 3.3 million camels and camelids are slaughtered for meat per year.

  • A large amount of meat can be given by a camel carcass.

  • Among the chosen parts are the brisket, ribs and loin, and the hump is called a delicacy.

  • In many people's diets, camel milk and meat are rich in protein, vitamins, glycogen, and other nutrients that make them important.

Fun Camel Facts

  • In order to keep sand out of their eyes, camels have three sets of eyelids and two rows of eyelashes.

  • During sandstorms, camels will entirely close their nostrils.

  • Their humps let them store up to 80 pounds of fat for weeks and even months, which they can live off!

  • Just like a racehorse, camels can travel up to 40 miles per hour!

  • Up to 14 months prior to giving birth, mother camels bear their calves.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is a Camel?

Ans: In the genus Camelus, a camel is an even-toed ungulate that bears distinctive fatty deposits known on its back as humps. Camels have long been domesticated and they provide food and textiles as livestock.

2. Which are the Three Extant Camel Species Found on Earth?

Ans: The three extant camel species are:

  • Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus)

  • Arabian camel or Dromedary (Camelus dromedarius)

  • Wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus)

3. Where are the Camels Generally Found?

Ans: Camels are typically found in the desert, prairie or steppe, no matter the type. In North Africa and the Middle East, the dromedary camel can be found. The Bactrian camel can be found in Central Asia.

4. What are the Uses of a Camel?

Ans: Camel is used for transporting goods and people as well as for providing milk. For its owners, milk is also the only daily food source. The meat, wool and leather of the camel are also commonly used.