Camel - The Ship Of The Desert

The camel is an ancient animal that has been domesticated for more than 3000 years. Humans especially in desert area are highly dependent upon camel for transportation and livelihood. Humans have used camel for its wool, meat, milk, dung and leather. This animal is like a part and parcel of their life. The camel has big legs, thick skin and fatty deposits on its back called “hump”.  This animal can travel in the harsh weather and can live for many days without food or water. Studies have proved that camel can carry 170 to 270 kilograms of weight on their back and hence they are known as ship of the desert. There are two kinds of camel in the world. The camel with single hump is called dromedary camel and the camel with double hump is called Bactrian camel. Around 94% of camel’s population consists of dromedary camel and remainder of Bactrian camel. The Wild Bactrian camel is separate specie and is critically endangered. You might think that such huge specie has no predators but there have been many instances where wolves have attacked camels.

Camel History

It is believed that first camel originated in North America. The camel evolved from rabbit like creature that existed million years ago. This animal migrated to Asia about million years ago and eventually transformed into a camel we know today. The one humped camel is evolved from two humped camel. The camels were firstly domesticated for its milk.


Characteristics and Facts Of The Camel

  1. The camels are cud chewing animals just like cows and buffalo
  2. This animal has slobbery mouth, large lips and big teeth. Just like goat and Giraffe, it has long tongue
  3. The actual purpose of the hump is to store fats which act as reserve at the time of no food and water
  4. When the stored fat of the camel has been used, it shrinks automatically
  5. The hump of Bactrian camel can reach up to 18 inches
  6. The camel has two large flexible toes instead of hooves. The toes are connected by skin of the camel so that it doesn’t shrink in the sand
  7. Camels can drink 40 gallons of water in a single time. They store water in stomach and hold it in tissues which they recycle it for weeks
  8. In winter they drink water once every two weeks and in summers they drink water after every four days
  9. Camels can regulate their body temperature unlike humans. In this way they survive in hot and humid climate
  10. Camels are herbivorous animals. They are gazers and will eat almost anything including thorny plants
  11. Camel can carry 600 pounds of load and can walk 50 km in a day.
  12. Camel milk is high in protein and low in cholesterol. Their milk can stay longer because it is sweet
  13. Camels have third eyelids that protect its eyes from sandstorms
  14. The camels bring up the content of stomach by throwing it out
  15. Camels are diurnal animals, they spend their days eating
  16. Camel hair is used to make variety of woolen products and brushes
  17. The camel mate by sitting down
  18. Camels are measure of wealth and source of pride for desert people
  19. Female camel reaches their sexual maturity at the age of 6. They give birth to one calf after every two years
  20. The camel can survive even by losing 40% of their whole body weight
  21. The camel’s waste is dry
  22. A baby camel is 3ft tall at the time of birth
  23. The average lifespan of the camel is 40 years.

Camel Appearance

Camels are mammoth creature. They have huge body with some special distinctive feature, found only in this animal. Let’s examine its bodily features.

  1. Ears - The camels have round and small ears which are covered with fine hairs to prevent sand from entering inside.
  2. Eyes - The camel eyes are large and protruding. They have inner membrane in both the eyes that allows the camel to see even in sandstorms.
  3. Eyebrows and eyelashes - The camels have bushy eyebrows and long eyelashes that can reach up to 3 cm. Both these features help to shield their eyes from sun and dirt.
  4. Feet and Toes - The camels have two toes on each foot. Its toes are padded and make no noise when camel walks or run. Unlike cattle that walk on hooves, camels carry their entire weight on cushioned toes.
  5. Hump - The most distinctive feature of this animal is its hump. Contrary to popular myth, the camel doesn’t store water in its hump. It stores body fat which helps it to regulate temperature and provide energy to camel when the food and water is scarce. The camels have straight spines and they are able to carry huge weight because of curved back.
  6. Legs - The camels have long and strong legs that carry the cargo’s weight along with body weight. When camel walks it puts one foot forward while other are firmly rooted in still position.
  7. Lips, Mouth, Teeth - The camels have soft and supple upper lips which helps it to pick minute vegetation. The interior of its mouth is leathery that allows it to eat even thorns. The camel has large mouth with 34 teeth. The upper front of the mouth has no teeth. The teeth (Incisors and canines) of the camel grow its entire life.
  8. Nose and Nostrils - It might sound as intimidating fact to you but camel cools itself by breathing. It traps water vapor from its nostril and sends it to body in order to avoid water loss during respiration. The camel can close its nostrils at the time of sandstorms. It has keen sense of smell and it can smell from miles away. It has been seen that camel doesn’t drink dirty water or water already been drunk by other animal.

Weight and Height

The camel can weigh around 700kg and height reaches up to 6-7ft.


Camel Habitat

Camels are found in desert. The dromedary camel is native to Middle East and North Africa. The Bactrian camel is found in Middle East. The camel can live in hot as well cold climate. They can thrive in -29 degree Celsius to 50 degree Celsius.

Read more on Bactrian Camel



The camels are herbivorous animals, means they feed on grass, vegetation, plants and fruits. In the desert they even eat thorny plants. Camels can drink 113 liters of water in 15 minutes.

Reproduction Cycle

After mating, female camel gives birth to its baby after a gestation period of 12 to 14 months. They generally give birth to one calf at a time. It is rare that a camel gives birth to twins. The camel reaches its sexual maturity at 6-7 years of age. Mother camel nurtures its baby till two months, after then they both join the herd.


Camels are hunt by wolves and human beings.


  1. The camels are very social and communicative animals. They are docile animals and respectful of their owners. Camels will act mischievous with strangers who don’t treat it nicely. It tends to spit, kick, grunt and even swatting them with its tail.
  2. Camels may not look attractive to you but they have very innocent and soft expression on their face. They also possess odor and are known to pass loud gas.
  3. Camels are life to nomadic people and they treat the animal with respect and as the member of their own family. If someone abuse camel, they are chastised by the community.
  4. Camels are good mannered animals and are known to follow every command of their master. They are intelligent and know the difference between right and left. They understand hundreds of commands communicated to them by the master. On request of the owner, they bow down so that people can sit over it.
  5. Camels are social animals and they prefer to live in herd. The head of the herd is male camel.