Just like humans, a camel's length of life can vary. But with great love and care, camels can easily live up to about thirty-five years.
Dromedary (one-humped camels, also known as the Arabian camel) can be as tall as six to seven feet at the shoulder. When measuring a camel, you do not measure the height of the hump, as that can vary with the amount of food and activity.
Camels do not have hooves! They are not like horses, or even goats, cattle, giraffe, etc. Camels have soft, padded feet with toenails. In many ways, they are very similar to our own feet, or a dog's feet with the obvious exception of having only two toes on each foot. The pad of the camel's foot is specialized, and spreads out when the camel's body weight bares down on it, keeping the camel from sinking in sand, similar to a snow shoe.
Camels are herbivores. They are browsers, which means that they not only eat grasses on the ground like horses and cattle, but they also reach up into bushes and trees for leaves as well.
On our farm, our camels eat a variety of hay, including alfalfa and bermuda grass hay, while they also roam our pastures eating the natural grasses and bushes. In addition, we offer our camels tree branches and bush branches like acacia, California pepper, palm branches, mustard plants, tumbleweeds, and dandelion greens.
Occasional grain, especially offered to a mother nursing her calf or a camel who is exercising a lot (like one of our geldings who gives camel rides to guests), is a welcome supplement. However, too much grain is not not needed, and not particularly good for camels.
It is also important to provide camels with salt and other essential minerals.
Camels are less about speed and more about endurance. That being said, a racing camel in Saudi Arabia regularly achieves speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
At those speeds, they are galloping like horses do. But camels prefer a slower pace. They do not trot like horses. Their equivalent gait is called a pace. In the pace, both right legs move together, while alternately both left legs move together. This creates the rocking or swaying motion that earned the camel it's nickname, "ship of the desert".
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! They are highly intelligent and communicative animals. They have a very involved social hierarchy that utilizes vocalizations and body language to communicate.
When teaching camels, they soak up information like giant sponges. It is common to finish a teaching session in the afternoon only to see the next day that your camel has not only retained what you taught them, but has thought about it and is further along then where you left off.
Because camels are so intelligent and communication is vital to them, it is extremely important that they are given good guidance, stimulation, and teaching at the correct ages. We also find that the camels raised by camels rather than by humans have better social skills and are more emotionally balanced.
If given the opportunity, a camel will drink water every day. At the Oasis Camel Dairy, our camels have access to water at all times. We also ensure that they are given water at regular intervals, especially when they've been working with guests.
Camels love water. They especially like slurping it out of a hose, off of the ground, or off the edges of their barn roofs. However, camels are adapted to live deep in the desert, where finding food can take them far, far away from water sources. Camels easily go two weeks without a drop of water to drink in the harshest of desert environments. And not only do they survive... they thrive.
A camel can travel at a steady pace for over ten hours a day carrying loads up to six hundred pounds, or nurse their calves while trekking for weeks without water. Surprisingly, the secret to the camel's ability to go without water does not lie in their hump. It lies in their blood.
Most mammals have round red blood cells. Camels have elliptical shaped red blood cells. This elliptical shape withstands the higher osmotic pressure that water-depleted blood places on the red blood cells. Camels can loose up to 25% of their body weight in water without experiencing deadly side effects. Isn't that amazing?
Shockingly, the hump is not full of water! It is made up of thick fat. The size of the hump is dependent upon how much extra food is around. The fat is grisly, and has poor circulation, which is a good thing. It serves as insulation to protect the camel from the intense heat of the desert sun.
Ok... we had to! Believe it or not, we do not get tired of being asked what day it is, or hearing someone walk up to the camels saying, "Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike".
From the first airing of GEICO's famous commercial featuring the happier than a camel on hump day start, America began to see camels in a very different light. As silly as the scenario seems on film, the commercial does a great job at capturing the playful, easygoing, digs-their-job, digs-their-coworkers way camels really are.
So yes, we are thrilled when asked... "Hey.. what day is it?"
Why? Well, it really took a lot of heat off of the one question we are asked the most, which is...
No, our camels do not spit.
Camels can spit. However, our twenty-plus years working with camels has taught us that happy camels do not spit. In fact, even if we have to do something our camels do not enjoy, like giving them a shot or even an oral examination, they will tell us about it, but they do not spit on us.
So when does a camel spit? A camel can learn to spit as a way to get out of doing something they do not want to do. A camel may spit because they are anticipating an unpleasant experience that they do not understand.
Working with camels is like good parenting. You are loving, but you are in charge. You are the boss, but you are a boss that listens. When camels feel safe and secure; when they enjoy the company of humans and their camel pasture mates, then there is no reason to escalate to the dramatic display of spitting.
Teaching others about camels is our joy! If you have a camel question you want answered, feel free to drop us an email by clicking the link below.
Be sure to mention that you took a look at our TOP 10 CAMEL QUESTIONS.
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