Camel, Arabian camel, One-Humped camel
Dromedary camels are large hoofed animal with cream to brown colored fur which is short and thick and protects them from the sun in the daytime and keeps them warm during cold nights. Their long legs with two toes on each of their feet foot can spread wide to stop them sinking into the sand. They have large eyes and good sight, and their large slit-like nostrils give them a good sense of smell and can be closed during dust storms. They have two layers of long eyelashes.
The Dromedary has not occurred naturally in the wild for nearly 2,000 years. As domestic animals, they are generally found in arid regions in the Middle East, northern India and Africa, particular in the Sahara Desert. There is also significant feral population of dromedary camels in Australian deserts.
Habits and lifestyle
Dromedary camels are diurnal, generally shy and usually found in groups of 4 to 6. In a family group the male is dominant and directs his family from the rear, with females taking turns leading. They tend to travel walking in single file. They are very social and will greet each other by means of blowing in each other's faces. These camels like to scratch their bodies with their legs, or with their teeth. They also rub against trees and roll in the sand.
caravan, train, flock
Diet and nutrition
Camels are herbivorous, their thick lips allowing them to eat things that other animals can't, like thorny plants. When looking for food, they spread over large areas and taking from each plant only a few leaves. It is important that they fill up on available water. Within just 13 minutes they are able to take in 30 gallons (113 liters) of water.
Dromedary camels are polygamous. Their breeding season is usually from November and March. Gestation lasts up to 13 months and one calf is born, or occasionally twins. The calf can stand within 8 hours. It remains under the herd's protection until it is old enough to become independent. Camels start to eat grass at between 2 and 3 months and are weaned around 4 months of age. Both males and females are sexually mature around age of 3.
There are no true wild dromedaries any more. The number of domestic dromedaries is about 15 million, giving them common status. As of 2013, feral population of Australia was estimated at around 300,000 individuals.
Dromedaries were first domesticated about 4000 years ago, probably in Somalia or the Arabian Peninsula. In about the tenth century BCE, the dromedary camel became popular in regions of the Near East. In 525 BCE the Persian invasion of Egypt introduced domesticated camels to this area, but these camels were not well-suited to travel across the Sahara with big loads, and horses pulling chariots were used instead. The dromedary came into northern Africa (Egypt) via southwestern Asia (Persia and Arabia). They were suitable for long desert journeys and were able to carry heavy loads of cargo, first time enabling much trade across the Sahara.
As beasts of burden, dromedaries serve humans and also provide them with food, leather, wool, and fuel from their dung, and have therefore enabled humans to live in very arid regions. Dromedary husbandry is today on the increase, and is recognized as a method that is ecologically sound for the production of protein rich food in dry areas.
Fun facts for kids
- Camels only sweat in temperatures of 106°F (41C) or higher.
- Camels are born with no hump.
- Most camels will only spit when provoked, despite their reputation as spitters.
- Water is not stored in camels' humps, which consist of fat.
- When camels use up the fat stored in their hump, it will get smaller. It will fill up with fat Again when they eat and drink.
- Camels make the sounds of moans, groans and deep bellows. A camel's noise was used as the voice of Chewbacca in Star Wars movies.
- Camels can live as long as six months with no food or water.