Scientific name: Camelus dromedarius
Other common names: Arabian Camel
The dromedary or Arabian camel is a large even-toed ungulate with one hump on its back. The dromedary camel is a member of the camel family. Other members of the camel family include the llama and the alpaca in South America. The Dromedary has one hump on its back, in contrast to the Bactrian Camel which has two.
The Arabian camels native range is unclear, but it was probably the Arabian Peninsula. Dromedaries were first domesticated in central or southern Arabia some thousands of years ago and the domesticated form occurs widely in North Africa and the Middle East. Interestingly, the world's only population of dromedaries exhibiting wild behavior is an introduced feral population in Australia.
Appearance / health:
Camels average 6 ft. tall at the shoulder and 7 ft. tall at the hump. Their body color is typically beige or light brown to reflect sunlight. The hair is thick to insulate the body from the heat of the sun. The legs are long to elevate the body of the animal from the heat of the desert sand. Eyelashes and ear hairs are long, and nostrils can be shut closed to protect the eyes, ears, and nose from airborne sand and dust. Bushy eyebrows on a ridge of bone over the eyes protect the eyes from the glaring sun; a third eyelid helps sweep sand away from the eyeballs.
Hooves are wide to allow the camel to walk on the sand. Callous pads are present on the chest, back of the front leg joints and the front of the back leg joints to protect the camel from the hot sand when kneeling or resting.
The camel is fully adapted to life in the desert because it can tolerate extreme heat and a body temperature of up to 106F before it starts to sweat. Its hump is composed of fatty tissue that breaks down and supplies the animal with energy when food and water are scarce. The camel can withstand high levels of dehydration and weight loss before it goes into circulatory distress. Its blood cells are such that they can withstand osmotic pressure when the camel drinks large quantities of water (up to 40 gallons) at once.
Behavior / temperament:
Camels are calm and gentle animals that are easy to domesticate. They are able to carry loads of hundreds of pounds, and walk long distances under the harshest conditions. They can, however, also be overburdened and overworked enough to become ill and die. During mating season, male camels become aggressive and will often bite, spit at, and try to sit on other male camels.
Housing / diet:
Camels are omnivorous, feeding on all types of foliage, even thorny, dried desert plants. They also eat meat, fish, leather, fabric, paper, and mostly anything edible. If feeding on fresh plants, which provide moisture and fluids, the camel can survive for 50 days without water. Without plants to provide moisture, it will survive for 5 days without water.
gentle giants, friendliest camel
firm discipline, exhibit intestinal parasites, Basic ground training, plague yersina pestis
tiny wooden saddle, low reproductive capacity, Sahel region, Bedouins, long gestation period
Our camel is as you would expect - lazy. She is very friendly and loves people, but you will typically find her grazing in her pasture (alone) or lying in the sun. She is one of our most popular animals at the petting zoo. We also do many events with her during the holiday season (live nativity, etc). She is very easy to care for and does not require a lot of attention, though she wants your attention! If you are working anywhere near her, she will surely come to visit you and will not leave you alone until you acknowledge her..
From tmoorehead Oct 6 2014 12:43PM
Sahelian Dromedaries for Breeding, Milk, Wool and Meat
You really cannot work in the Sahel region of West Africa without coming across these animals. Both the Bedouin and the Tuareg still use them as steeds and beasts of burden. Though rare some Fulani also have camels, particularly the more nomadic tribes.
Today there is no such thing as a wild dromedary in Africa or the Middle East. They are all reared by humans and they are very expensive. This typically makes the camel the most expensive animal that these people own and they are often maintained with a respect that is afforded to no other animal.
Being so used to humans they are typically quite tame. They are also very intelligent and have mischievous natures. They like to test the bounds of what is allowed, so you need to keep them under firm control. Like many animals adapted to the desert they have a strange slightly rolling gait and they lurch when running, whilst keeping their heads level.
They like to be petted and if you stand in the middle of them they will lay their neck on your shoulders, whilst turning their heads back to look at you quizzically.
Dromedaries have a very long gestation period of 15 months and they typically give birth between January and May. The calves are very small at birth (typically about 40kg) which means that birthing is typically easy, though it can take the newly-born camels a few hours to get to their feet. Meaning that the whole tribe has to stop until the young camel is strong enough to suckle and then to travel with its mother (typically a day).
Dromedaries are typically diurnal and cluster together in the evening to conserve heat for the cold desert nights (this makes then easy to tether and keep together over night). Typically, they are not aggressive. Though the exception to this can be rutting males. During the rut (typically January to April) the bull camels make much more male hormones, which causes them to inflate their soft palates, which produces a soft pink flap that protrudes from the mouth (this is known as the doula in Arabic and attracts the females). During this time the males will attack and try to sit on any rival males to prevent them gaining access to the females.
Camel calves suckle for two years. The females are mature at three years and though the males can typically mate at three years they are not fully sexually mature until six years old. Typically they live to twenty years of age. This low reproductive capacity is one of the reasons that camels remain in fairly small numbers when managed by humans.
A female camel can yield up to 9 litres of milk per day and camel milk remains one of the staples of nomadic tribes. It is typically only the surplus males that are slaughtered for meat, so it is not particularly common and is a time of great celebration. Camel meat is similar to rose veal in colour and flavour. Though typically healthy, camels do exhibit intestinal parasites and should be wormed. They are also a host to bubonic plague (Yersina pestis) and camel fleas can transmit the disease to humans.
Camel coats can also be shorn for wool and there is interest in the Sahel region in raising camels more intensively for wool and milk. Camels are well known for their abilities to survive without food or water for up to four days. When food is plentiful they store the excess as fat in their hump. When needed they can break this fat down into sugars and water. However, when they do come to water camels can hoover up 100 litres in as little as 10 minutes. So care must always be taken when allowing camels access to watering holes and people and other animals are often allowed to drink first.
This is a really fascinating animal that I wish I could work with more..
From DLlE Sep 22 2012 8:29AM