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Guanacos Camels Llamas Alpacas and Vicuñas: Camelidae

Dromedary Camel (camelus Dromedarius): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Dromedary camels are 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall at the hump and weighs 1,600 pounds (726 kilograms). Their long neck is curved, and they have one hump. Hair is caramel brown or sandy brown, though shades can range from nearly black to white. The coat is long at the throat, shoulders, and hump area, and blocks the heat of the sun. The tail is short and the eyelashes are long.

Geographic range: Dromedary camels are found in dry regions of the Middle East through northern India, and in Africa, primarily the Sahara Desert. This camel has been introduced to Australia.

Habitat: Dromedary camels like the desert where temperatures often rise above 120°F (49°C).

Diet: Dromedary camels eat thorny plants, dry grasses, and salty plants that grow in the desert. Since they eat only a few leaves from each plant, their food supply is relatively stable. Because they do not drink much water, dromedary camels need six to eight times more

A camel's hump is mostly fat, which is used by the body when food is scarce. (© Dave G. Houser/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)

salt than other animals. Salt helps the body retain water. Dromedary camels do not sweat easily, so they lose moisture more slowly than other animals. Dromedary camels have been known to drink one-third of their weight in water within ten minutes.

Behavior and reproduction: Families include two to twenty individual camels, including one dominant male, several females, and offspring. The dominant male chases away competitor males by pushing them, snapping, and spitting.

Females are ready to mate by three years, males by six years. Pregnancy lasts up to fifteen months. Mothers nurse, feed with mother's milk, their offspring for one year. Because they have no predators, dromedary camels live anywhere from thirty to forty years.

Dromedary camels and people: Dromedary camels have been hunted for their meat and used as transportation for thousands of years. They are also valuable for their milk, wool, leather, and manure, which is used for fuel.

Conservation status: There are about fourteen million dromedary camels across the globe. They are not threatened. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsGuanacos Camels Llamas Alpacas and Vicuñas: Camelidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Camelids And People, Conservation Status, Dromedary Camel (camelus Dromedarius): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT