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Camels (extant/living species; Camelus spp.): Summary

Camels (Camelus spp.)

Camels (extant species; Camelus spp.)

Dromedary Camel

Bactrian Camel

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

 

Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia - mammals

Order: Artiodactyla - even-toed hoofed animals: includes pigs, sheep goats, cattle, deer

Family: Camelidae - camels

Genus: Camelus - camels

Species: Camelus dromedarius - dromedary or one-humped camel
Species: Camelus ferus - wild Bactrian camel
Species: Camelus bactrianus - domestic Bactrian camel

Body Weight
Bactrian Camel: 450-500 kg (992-1102 lb)
Dromedary Camel: 400-600 kg (881-1323 lb)

Head-body Length
Bactrian Camel: 320-350 cm (10.5-11.5 ft)
Dromedary Camel: 220-340 cm (7.2-11.1 ft)

Shoulder Height
Bactrian Camel: 160-180 cm (5.2-5.9 ft)
Dromedary Camel: 180-200 cm (5.9-6.6 ft)

Tail Length
Bactrian Camel: 51-65 cm (1.7-2.1 ft)
Dromedary Camel: 45-55 cm (1.5-1.8 ft)

Pelage
Tufted tail.
Bactrian: tan to grayish on body in the wild, long and dark in the wild
Dromedary: short, light-colored coat

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range
Wild Bactrian camel: parts of China and Mongolia
Domestic camels: introduced throughout the arid and semiarid regions of the world

Habitat
Domestic Bactrian camel: cold desert regions
Dromedary: hot, arid desert regions of Africa, the Middle East, and Australia

IUCN Status
Wild Bactrian camel: Critically Endangered

CITES Appendix
Not listed

U.S. Endangered Species Act
Endangered

Population in Wild
Wild Bactrian camel: <1,000 individuals

Locomotion
Legs on the same side of the body move forward together. Can run quickly for short bursts.

Activity Cycle
Most time spent browsing, grazing, and chewing cud (partially digested food).

Social Groups
Small groups; about 6 individuals on average (range 2-15).

Diet
Grasses, leaves, and twigs of shrubs and trees.

Predators
Wolves (Bactrian camel)

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity
Females: about 3-4 years
Males: about 5-6 years

Gestation
12-14 months

Litter Size
One

Interbirth Interval
Two years

Age at Weaning
1-2 years of age

Longevity
Bactrian camel: up to 35 years
Domestic dromedary: a maximum of 40-50 years

Feature Facts

  • Camel caravans are icons of transporting goods along trade routes
  • Domestic camels are still an important part of Nomad culture in the Sahara; used in combat--horses spook at the smell of camels
  • Wild camels may live in places with no freshwater; if cold, may not drink for months
  • A camel's elastic, cushioning foot pads are unique in the animal world
  • A camel's hump is composed of fat, which is metabolized for energy and water
  • Prehensile lips
  • Wild camels are very shy
  • Females have a long pregnancy period, and calves stay with mothers a long time
  • Fewer than 1,000 wild camels remain; the IUCN recognizes them as Critcally Endangered

About This Fact Sheet

© 2009-2017 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor updates in 2013 and 2017.

 

How to cite: Camels (extant species; Camelus spp.). c2009-2017. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/camels
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

 

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to library@sandiegozoo.org.

Dromedary Camel

Dromdary Camel

Dromedary Camels have one hump, a more smaller frame, and longer, more slender legs than Bactrian Camels.

Their hair is also lighter and shorter.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

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