The camel is a unique beast; some feel it is beautiful, while others, perhaps more lucidly, see it as being rather less kissable! There are many interesting facts about camels, so without any further ado, here is a list of 20 of the most interesting!
1. The name comes from the Arabic ǧml meaning “beauty”.
2. A camel’s hump does not store water. It stores fat, lessening heat-trapping insulation around the rest of the body.
3. One reason camels can go long periods without water is the shape of their red blood cells. These are oval and so will flow when they are dehydrated rather than clumping, as ours do. The camel is the only mammal to have oval red blood cells.
4. Camels can drink up to 40 gallons of water in one go.
5. Their temperature ranges from 34 degrees Celsius at night to 41 degrees during the day. They don’t begin to sweat until they are over 41 degrees.
6. The photo here does not illustrate the camel’s sexual organs but is in fact the lining of the mouth extruded during mating calls – or sometimes to heighten the effect of “spitting”.
7. Camels lie down to rest and sleep (and good luck getting them up if they decide they don’t want to).
8. Camels lips are split to help them graze.
9. They can eat anything, including thorny twigs, without injuring their mouths.
10. Camels can kick in all four directions with each of their legs.
11. Camels can close their nostrils against wind and sand when necessary.
12. The shape of their nostrils allows them to retain water vapor and return it to the body as fluid.
13. They can lose 25% of their body fluids without getting dehydrated. Most mammals can only lose 15%.
14. Camels are ruminants like cows and goats.
15. Eating green plants gives them the moisture they need without drinking.
16. Their coats reflect sunlight and insulate them from the desert heat.
17. One of the camel’s defenses is ‘spitting’ – where they essentially throw up a foul smelling greenish fluid from their stomach all over you if provoked. For those who have experienced it, it seems never ending and is never forgotten.
18. Camel feces are so dry they are used for fuel, and their urine is as thick as syrup.
19. The camel is the only animal to have replaced the wheel (N. Africa) when the wheel was already established.
20. Camels have been used in wars throughout history, especially in the desert regions.
Camels are beautifully and perfectly adapted to the desert and arid hot lands in which they live. They are a source of food, transportation and clothing for those living with them, and most have been domesticated. They can cross a desert carrying pounds of supplies and human passengers which would strand trucks. Amazing beasts, both the Bactrian (two humps) and the Dromedary (one hump) have changed the course of civilization both by helping exploration and in wars.