Bactrian Camel

The most distinctive feature of the bactrian camel is its two humps. These humps, contrary to popular belief, are designed to store fat and not water. They are used for nourishment when food is scarce. However, it is true that bactrian camels can go several days without water. In addition to the water that is normally stored in the body, the bactrian camel stores about 1.5 gallons in special sacks around its stomach.

When water is available, they drink only to replace the water they have lost. If the bactrian camel has used up all its water it will need to drink about 30 gallons of water to fill up. This only takes about 10 minutes. The camel is extremely well suited to water conservation. It sweats very little, emits very little water as a waste fluid, and can change its body temperature threshold depending on the ambient temperature to help contain water loss.

Bactrian camels are usually a beige color with hair that ranges from short to long depending on the season. To protect themselves from sand and the harsh conditions they live in, they bushy eyebrows, a double row of long eyelashes, hair inside the ear, and they can tightly close their nostrils and lips to keep out flying sand.

They have very tough mouths that are not bothered by eating hard, sharp objects such as thorns. Most of the bactrian camels that you find today are domesticated. There are very few (estimated 300) wild bactrian camels. They are usually smaller than their domesticated brethren are.

Food

Bactrian camels are classified as herbivores. They prefer vegetation that is prickly, dry, salty, and/or bitter. However, when food is scarce they will eat bones, and various types of animal flesh. They have even been known to eat rope, sandals, and tents. Camels also incur no ill effects by drinking salty or brackish water. Their ability to eat a wide range of products attributes to their success in very harsh conditions.

Habitat

The bactrian camel lives primarily in Central Asian deserts north of the Himalayas.

Predators

Other than man, the primary predator of the camel is the tiger.

Social Structure

Bactrian camels travel the desert in caravans made up of 6 to 20 camels. These groups will be composed of adolescent males, females and their young or a group of females and their young led by 1 adult male. Ordinarily, camels are very calm, patient animals. During mating season, male camels become aggressive and will often bite, spit at, and try to sit on other male camels. Bactrian camels were domesticates about 3500 years ago and have been vital to the cultures in their desert habitat.

Birth & Offspring

Young camels are able to stand and walk when they are only a few hours old. They will stay with their mother for 3 to 5 years.

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