Camelus Dromedarius (one-hump camel)
Where am I from?
The majority of camels are located in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. They have a long history among the nomadic people of this area and have an interdependent relationship with humans. They are great pack animals and can go long distances on little water and food.
Camels were shipped into Australia when the land was being settled and many feral camels live there in the wild today.
Who are my relatives?
The camel is part of the Camelide family which also includes the llamas, alpacas, guanaco and the vicugna. The genus Camelus consists of the Dromedary Camel which has one hump and the Bactrian Camel which has two humps.
Dromedary has come to describe the entire camel species but it comes from a Greek word "dromos" which means riding camel and refers to the one-hump camels. Today 90% of the camels are dromedary camels while 10% are Bactrain camels.
How am I born?
The mating cycle is thought to be triggered by increased daylight. A female camel, called a cow, will usually not have a calf until she is 5 years old. The male camels, called bulls, reach sexual maturity at 2 – 3 years and will leave the bachelor herd and go in search of as many cows as he can dominate to create his own herd. The gestation period ranges from 12 – 14 months and the calf is born with a full coat of wool and able to run and call to its mother with a soft little "baa" within a couple of hours. The baby camel will not have a hump at birth but will begin to develop one as soon as it starts to eat solid food. The average cow will have a calf every two to three years producing around 8 calves by age 20.
What do I eat?
Camels are mobile browsers and have a deeply split upper lip. Their split lip is ideally suited to stripping leaves from even the most prickly trees and shrubs. With their long neck, they can reach 11 1/2 ft. high and can feed on tough thorny plants that even sheep and goats would pass over because of the thick hair inside their nose that protects it and the tough skin inside their mouth.
Although camels will normally select the freshest vegetation available, when food is scarce, they are omnivores. This means they eat everything, fresh plants, dried plants, bones, fish, meat, and leather. Camels are called ruminant feeders because they do not chew their food before swallowing it. Instead, later after feeding, they regurgitate some of it (which is now politely called cud) and finish chewing it. Then, it's three-chambered stomach can complete the digestion. When a camel cannot find food, it's hump will shrink, droop to one side, or even slide off the camel's back to one side. However, the hump will rapidly return to size in a few weeks once the camel finds food. This information was taken from a very good website called Camel Pictures and Facts.
Camels at Camp
At Cub Creek Science Camp our camel is called Malachi and we got him as a 5-month-old baby. During summer camp, the campers had fun feeding him from a bottle and petting his soft wool. He has thick leathery pads on his knees to keep him comfortable even when he kneels down on the rough ground. He will grow to about 6.5 to 7.0 feet tall. He is very gentle and loves the attention that he receives from the campers. He makes a low mooing sound when someone approaches the enclosure and is very vocal about wanting to be petted. He eats hay, calf manna, and a special camel food. He has three stomachs so after he eats he regurgitates some of his food and chews the cud then re-swallows to continue the digestive process.