Dromedary Camel

(Camelus dromedarius)

Habitat and Distribution: Dromedary camels have been extinct in the wild for 2,000 years, except in Australia, where they have been introduced to some arid regions. Before they were domesticated, they were found in deserts throughout the Middle East and Africa.

Size: 6-7.5 feet tall; 10 feet long; 660-1520 pounds

Wild Diet: Thorny plants, dry grasses, saltbush, and other desert plants

Predators: Humans and wolves

Reproduction: Dromedary camels breed during the rainy season, which varies with geographic range. Females deliver a single calf after a gestation of 12-15 months. Calves walk by the end of their first day, start eating grass at 2-3 months old, and nurse for 1-2 years.

Behavior: Dromedary camels are social, living in groups of up to 20 that typically include a male, multiple females, and younger camels of various ages. Groups travel in a single-file line and graze on desert plants about 8-12 hours per day. Rather than eating entire shrubs in one sitting, they forage widely on a variety of foliage, taking just a few bites from each plant.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Not Evaluated

Dromedary camels have been domesticated for over 4,000 years and their populations are stable. An estimated 14 million domesticated camels are found throughout Africa, Europe and Asia.

Did you know?

  • A dromedary camel can drink 100 liters of water in 10 minutes.
  • Camel humps are made of fat bound together by fibrous tissue. Humps store nutrients, not water.
  • Camels can lose over 30 percent of their body weight in water without being harmed (most mammals would die after losing 15 percent of their water).
  • The dromedary camel has a single hump (like a sideways D), while the Bactrian camel has two humps (like a sideways B). 
  • Dromedary camels are adapted for a desert lifestyle. Heavy eyebrows, double rows of eyelashes, and slit-like closeable nostrils protect their faces during sandstorms. They even have a clear eyelid that protects their eyes without blocking their vision.