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Interesting Facts About Camels - Ships of the Desert

Updated on July 23, 2018
Vellur profile image

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

Dromedary Camel with One Hump
Dromedary Camel with One Hump | Source

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 that are 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 also known as 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 | Source

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 that is 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 into the eyes of the camel. The eyes of the camel have long thick lashes that keep the sand from entering the eyes.

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

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

Bactrian camels have a wooly coat to protect themselves from the cold during winter. They shed their coat during summer to cope up 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 real close to the ground to take a 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 the 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. The mouth of the camel has strong muscles that help them to eat anything, even twigs with sharp thorns.

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

Camel Behavior

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

Mother camels hum to their newborn. Baby camels are born without humps. They 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 they are being threatened.

Tidbits about Camels

Camels have been used for transport as early as 1800 BC in Africa, Asia, and parts of 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 desert sand without food or water carrying heavy loads of above 200 kg. They have been used and is still being used for transport across the desert.

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

Camel's Milk - Healthy and Nutritious

Camel is not only useful for transportation, but also people in the desert eat camels meat and drink camel's milk. Camel's milk is used to make cheese and in the preparation of hot and cold drinks.

Camel's milk is good for health, 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 contest held in the month of 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 big whiskers. The judges look for long bodied big humped camels who have a great color and standing posture!

This festival goes on for about two weeks and also 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 | Source

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 Al Maqam Racing Track just outside of Al Ain.

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

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

robot jockeys riding camels
robot jockeys riding camels | Source


© 2014 Nithya Venkat


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    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 months ago from Dubai

      Thank you Dr. Raziq.

    • profile image

      Dr. Raziq 

      5 months ago

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

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      21 months ago from Dubai

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

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      21 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      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.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

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

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      6 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      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.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      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!!

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 

      6 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      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 profile image

      precy anza 

      6 years ago from USA

      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!

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

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

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

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


    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

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

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

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


    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Anita lesic thank you.

    • Anita lesic profile image

      Dream Lover 

      6 years ago from Zagreb

      great hub ;)

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      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.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

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

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      6 years ago from Texas

      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.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

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

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

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

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      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 profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      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

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

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

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      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.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

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

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      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.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      Harishprasad thank you for stopping by and reading.

      radhikasree thank you and am glad you liked it.

    • radhikasree profile image

      Radhika Sreekanth 

      6 years ago from Mumbai,India

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

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      6 years ago from New Delhi , India

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

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      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!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      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 profile image


      6 years ago from Hermosa Beach, CA

      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 profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from the beautiful south

      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. ^

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

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

    • Hackslap profile image


      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      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)..

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

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

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

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

    • srsddn profile image


      6 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      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.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

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

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      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.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      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 profile image


      6 years ago from Louisiana

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

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      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 profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Informative article, nithya!

      Sharing it across

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      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 profile image

      b. Malin 

      6 years ago

      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.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great information; I love animal articles. :)

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      6 years ago from Dubai

      georgescifo thank you.

    • georgescifo profile image


      6 years ago from India

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


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