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Interesting Facts About Camels - Ships of the Desert

A botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys researching and writing about topics that interest her.

Dromedary Camel with One Hump

Dromedary Camel with One Hump

Camels are desert animals that can endure extreme temperatures. Camels are very special in Arabian culture. They symbolize patience, tolerance, and endurance.

Camels are large animals 5.9 feet - 7.5 feet tall and weigh 660 pounds - 2,520 pounds. They have a lifespan of 50 -60 years.

Camels can survive without food and water for several weeks.

Camels are used to transport goods across the desert. They are friendly animals and rarely exhibit hostile behavior unless provoked.

Types of Camels

There are two types of camels, the Arabian camel, the Dromedary camel, and the Bactrian Camel.

The Arabian camels are domesticated, whereas the Bactrian camels exist in the wild or can be domesticated. Bactrian camels have two humps on their back, whereas the Dromedary camels have one hump.

Bactrian camels are native to the Gobi Desert in China and the Bactrian steppes of Mongolia. Domesticated dromedary camels are found in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East.

Bactrian Camels With Two Humps

Bactrian Camels With Two Humps

How do camels adapt to desert conditions?

Camels store most of their fat in the hump. When there is a shortage of food and water, the camels convert the fat stored in the hump into energy. This adaptation helps camels to survive for up to six months without a meal.

As the camel uses the stored fat in the hump, the hump reduces in size. The hump grows back when the camel starts eating and storing fat again in the hump.

The camels have three eyelids, the upper and lower eyelids, and a third inner lid, a thin transparent membrane that the camels can see through. This membrane is called the "nictitating membrane." This inner membrane protects sand and dust particles from entering the eyes of the camel. In addition, the eyes of the camel have long, thick lashes that keep the sand from entering the eyes.

The camels can also close their noses to prevent sand from entering the airways.

The ears of the camel are small and rounded. They have thick hair growth on the outside and inside to prevent sand from entering the ears.

Bactrian camels have wooly coats to protect themselves from the cold during winter. However, they shed their coat during summer to cope with the heat.

Camels have thick, leathery lips. The upper lip is split into two, and each half can move independently. This makes it easier for the camel to get really close to the ground to take hold of short grass on the ground.

Camels have two toes on each foot connected by a wide pad of thick elastic skin. The camels walk on a thick pad that expands when the foot of the camel touches the ground and contracts when the foot is lifted from the sand. This feature helps the camel to walk easily on the sand.

How do camels eat?

Camels are herbivores. They have 34 strong teeth that help them to graze. In addition, the mouth of the camel has strong muscles that allow them to eat anything, even twigs with sharp thorns.

Camels do not chew on food. Instead, the camels swallow the food and bring it back to their mouth for chewing when they rest. This process is called regurgitation.

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Camel Behavior

Camels are social animals that live in herds. A dominant male usually heads the herd. Camels greet each other in a friendly way by blowing on one another's faces. Camels make many sounds, like moaning and groaning, shrill bleats, and bellows.

Mother camels hum to their newborns. Baby camels are born without humps and can run within hours of birth.

The mother and the child never separate and stay together for several years.

Camels spit when provoked. They throw up the contents of their stomach when they feel threatened.

Fun Facts About Camels

  • Camels have been used for transport as early as 1800 BC in Africa, Asia, and parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • The first camel in Australia was imported from the Canary Islands in 1840.
  • The female camel is called a cow; a male camel is referred to as a bull, and a baby camel is called a calf.
  • The word “camel” comes from the Arabic word “beauty.
  • There are 160 other words for the camel in the Arabic language.
  • A large, thirsty camel can drink up to 200 liters a day.
  • Camels can run faster than horses.

Ship of the Desert

The camel is well known as the ship of the desert because it can travel long distances on the sand without food or water, carrying heavy loads of above 200 kg. They have been used and are still used for transport across the desert.

Since ancient times, camels have been used in many battles. For example, the Persians, Greeks, and Romans have used camels in their battles.

Camel's Milk - Healthy and Nutritious

Camel is useful for transportation, and people in the desert eat camel meat and drink camel's milk. In addition, camel's milk is used to make cheese and prepare hot and cold drinks.

Camel's milk is good for health and healthier than cow's milk.

  • Camels milk is low in fat when compared to cow's milk
  • high in vitamin C, five times higher than cow's milk
  • contains a high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids that is good for health
  • reduces cholesterol
  • boosts the overall immunity system
  • rich in calcium
  • easily digested

Other Uses

  • camel's leather is used for making shoes, bags, saddles
  • camel droppings are dried and used for fuel
  • bones of camels are used to make jewelry
  • furry wool is used to make blankets, sweaters

Camel Beauty Contest

Camel Beauty Contest

The “Al Dhafra Festival,” held in Abu Dhabi, is a camel beauty contest. It is one of the biggest competitions held in December, attended by thousands of proud camel owners.

The camels are draped with gold and silver ornaments and brought out into the corrals, where they are judged for big heads, wide necks, firm ears, broad cheeks, and prominent whiskers. In addition, the judges look for long-bodied big humped camels with excellent color and standing posture!

This festival lasts about two weeks and includes events such as horse races, falconry competitions, auctions, and traditional souks.

The top ten winners receive prizes that include luxury cars and cash prizes ranging from Dh 18,000 to Dh 30,000.

camel racing in the desert sands

camel racing in the desert sands

Camel Racing

In the Middle East, camel racing is an old traditional sport. In this race, UAE’s best camels run on the tracks of the desert sand. The camel racing season starts in October.

The Camel Racing Event takes place 45 km east of Abu Dhabi on Al Ain Road. There are two famous camel racing tracks - one at Al Wathba Camel Racing Track near Abu Dhabi and one at Al Maqam Racing Track just outside Al Ain.

Special Robot Jockeys ride the camels dressed in colorful clothes. The Robot Jockeys have replaced children previously riding the camels during the races.

The robots are 2 feet high and made of 35 pounds of aluminum and plastic. They have a right hand to hold the whip and a left hand to hold the reins. The camel owners navigate these robots using a remote control and follow the camels by car along the race tracks.

robot jockeys riding camels

robot jockeys riding camels


© 2014 Nithya Venkat


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 10, 2020:

Thank you Dr. Raziq.

Dr. Raziq on February 09, 2020:

Hi Nithya, you have compiled the very interesting facts about the incredible camel. Wish you good luck. I appreciate your great work.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on October 04, 2018:

Mary thank you, it must have been a unique experience.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 25, 2018:

I have seen camel racing and have been in one but never knew all these interesting facts you have included here. I find it fascinating.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 14, 2014:

PegCole17 am glad you enjoyed learning all about the camel, the beauty contest is definitely a surprise.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 14, 2014:

This was a great read with interesting facts and great photos. I loved learning about the camel races and the robot controlled jockeys. The beauty contest was a big surprise along with the nutritional information about the camel's milk. I might like to give these products a try.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 31, 2014:

precy anza thank you for reading and yes camel milk is made into cheese and yogurt!!

cloverleaffarm thank you and yes camel rides are great!!

Healing Herbalist from The Hamlet of Effingham on March 30, 2014:

Great hub. Ever since I saw that Geico commercial, every time I see a camel, all I can think of is "hump day" Thanks for sharing all the great facts about them. Oh, I got to ride on one once. It was incredible.

precy anza from USA on March 30, 2014:

Wow! Good to know all these. So informative. I didn't know camel's milk are also made into cheese. And now I'll keep an eye for camel's milk when I go to groceries. Interesting!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 30, 2014:

rajan jolly thank you and am glad you came to know of these facts. Thanks for sharing too.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 30, 2014:

Informative read, Nithya. Many facts are new to me. Thanks for sharing.


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 24, 2014:

Eddy thank you for stopping by, for the vote and share, much appreciated.

Eiddwen from Wales on March 24, 2014:

A brilliant hub ;so interesting and well informed. Voting up and sharing.


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 23, 2014:

Anita lesic thank you.

Dream Lover from Zagreb on March 23, 2014:

great hub ;)

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 16, 2014:

Shyron E Shenko thank you for stopping by and am glad my hub was informative to you. Thanks for the vote up and share.

midget38 thank you for stopping by and yes camels help in many ways.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on March 15, 2014:

And so, the camel assists in more ways than one! Thanks for sharing, Nithya!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 14, 2014:

Vellur, this is very interesting, all the things I did not know about the Camel.

I never thought about drinking camel milk. I wonder how it taste?

I never watched a camel race

I'll bet they can cover an enormous space

Even at a steady pace

Love the info, voted up, interesting and shared.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 14, 2014:

rebeccamealey thank you for stopping by and yes they are fascinating.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 14, 2014:

Interesting! The camel is such a fascinating animal! I didn't know people ate the meat and drank the milk!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 13, 2014:

Nell Rose thank you for stopping by and am glad you learned new things. Camels are amazing animals, thank you for the vote and share much appreciated.

Nell Rose from England on March 13, 2014:

That was amazing Vellur! I never realised that the Arabic word for Camel was beauty! and those robot camel riders! I never knew about that either! I have often watched the camel racing on tv, its wonderful, I love watching something so different as this, so many new things I learned here, fascinating! I rode on a camel in Morocco, now that was a very strange experience! lol! great hub, voted up and shared! nell

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 13, 2014:

Jodah thank you for stopping by and reading. Thank you for adding information about Australia.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on March 12, 2014:

This is a wonderful hub Vellur, packed with information about camels. Australia now has the highest number of camels in the world. A small camel dairy has just been set up and has approval to begin pasteurizing the milk. I had no idea camels live for so long, 50 to 60 years. Voted up.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 09, 2014:

tobusiness it must have been great to ride a camel. Yes you said it right!! thank you.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on March 08, 2014:

I actually rode a Camel in the desert of Saudi Arabia where I worked for a couple of years. The Camel is an amazing animal, one of nature's wonder but beautiful? Maybe to it's mother. :) An interesting and informative hub. Well done.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 06, 2014:

Harishprasad thank you for stopping by and reading.

radhikasree thank you and am glad you liked it.

Radhika Sreekanth from Mumbai,India on March 06, 2014:

Camel racing sounds fun! Have you seen it actually? Nice hub about camels, Nithya.

Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on March 05, 2014:

A well-written and very informative hub about camels. I also liked the photos of camels participating in beauty contest and racing. Voted up.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 05, 2014:

srsddn thank you, camels are animals that can withstand a lot of hardships.

DDE thank you, camel's milk has a unique taste and flavor that you must get used to.

AudreyHowitt thank you for stopping by and reading.

Hackslap camel's milk is nutritious and better than cow's milk. Camel's milk chocolate is famous out here. Thank you for stopping by.

Sunshine625 thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Much appreciated.

Jackie Lynnley yes God alone knows what he is creating and yes what a long neck!!

TotalHealth thank you, camels can withstand tough conditions and still survive.

teaches12345 thank you for your visit and yes the camel beauty contest is really inspiring!!

Dianna Mendez on March 05, 2014:

I guess a camel can be beautiful in its own way. The contest prize is pretty inspiring for contestants. Thanks for the fantastic information.

TotalHealth from Hermosa Beach, CA on March 05, 2014:

Interesting hub! Camels, as you pointed out, are amazing animals! They eat thorns, easily survive the inherent risks of cross-desert travel, are powerful runners, and to top it off a nutritious source of food.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 04, 2014:

Wow those are really something else! I'd sure hate to regurgitate a stick, whew! Especially in a neck that long. I know God knows what he is doing though and the camel is one tough and special animal. ^

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 04, 2014:

Interesting tribute hub to the camel and it's almost Happy Hump Day! :)

Harry from Sydney, Australia on March 04, 2014:

I've eaten chocolates in Dubai made of Camel's milk ... and down here in Sydney there's a restaurant which serves Camel-meat burgers (the camels are sourced from Australia's Northern Territory)..

Audrey Howitt from California on March 04, 2014:

Aww, how I anyone resist a camel face?? This was a wonderful article!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 04, 2014:

Camels are amazing they have great qualities and are so useful. I haven't tried camel's milk would like to someday.

Sukhdev Shukla from Dehra Dun, India on March 04, 2014:

vellur, it is always a pleasure to know about animals. Camel seems to be quite an interesting one. I have never enjoyed a camel ride but I have seen many riding in rural areas. In cities also many people specially children enjoy rides on special occasions like festivals. Thanks for sharing such a detailed information about camels.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 03, 2014:

AliciaC am glad you enjoyed reading and yes robot jockeys are way out of this world! Thank you for stopping by.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 03, 2014:

This hub is very interesting and informative, Vellur. I've never heard of robot jockeys riding camels before. What an intriguing idea! Thank you for an enjoyable article.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 03, 2014:

billybuc thank you for your visit, I love animals too.

b.Malin robot jockeys are better than having small children riding camels. The robot jockeys are cool!! Thank you for reading and the vote.

always exploring am glad you enjoyed reading and thank you for your visit.

Ruchira thank you for stopping by and thanks for the share too.

Faith Reaper thank you. Camels are interesting animals and yes the beauty contest is out of the ordinary!! Am glad you enjoyed, thank you for the vote and share.

mylindaelliot thank you and yes camels are well known as the ships of the desert.

mylindaelliott from Louisiana on March 03, 2014:

Great information. I had heard them called ships of the desert before.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 03, 2014:

What a great read! I am always fascinated by the camel and I had no clue about the camel's milk, how interesting. So funny about the beauty contest. Wow, I did not know they could run that fast!

Very enjoyable hub!

Up and more and sharing.

Have a great week,

Faith Reaper

Ruchira from United States on March 03, 2014:

Informative article, nithya!

Sharing it across

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 03, 2014:

This was a most interesting article. I had no idea camels raced and i sure didn't know they were faster than horses. It is amazing to me that they have a natural defense against the sand, eyes, ears and nose. The video was cool too. Thank you for an informative hub..

b. Malin on March 03, 2014:

Hi Vellur, this was such a Fun, Educational read on Camels. And races with "Robot" Jockeys, who knew? And of course I Love the idea of a Camel Beauty Contest, based on Great Color and Posture...Loved the Video.

Voted Up & Interesting.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 03, 2014:

Great information; I love animal articles. :)

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 03, 2014:

georgescifo thank you.

georgescifo from India on March 03, 2014:

The Bactrian camel really looks funny and beautiful. Thanks for sharing this unique stuff.

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