Arabian camel – BBC – Wildfacts
You are here: BBC > Science & Nature > Animals > Wildfacts Dromedary camel, Arabian camel, one-humped camel Camelus dromedarius About 90 per cent of the world’s 14 million camels are dromedaries. Life span They live for 40-50 years. Statistics Length: 2.2-3.4 m, Tail length: 50 cm, Height at hump: 1.9-2.3 m, Weight: 450- 550 kg Physical description Dromedaries have a cream to brown or black short-haired coat, which is longer on the head, neck, throat, rump and tail. They have a single hump, long legs and a long, curved neck. The hump stores fat, which they are able to draw upon for sustenance; and oxidation of the fat manufactures water. Distribution They inhabit South West Asia and North Africa. They are also feral in Australia after being introduced in the mid-19 th century, principally as draft animals – about 500 ,000 survive wild in the outback. Habitat They are desert animals and have have numerous adaptations for life in an arid habitat. They have webbed feet (to prevent sinking in the sand); they can close their nostrils and they have a double row of eyelashes to keep out the sand. They can endure long periods without drinking – up to 17 days. When they do drink, they can take up to 136 litres (30 gallons) at a time. By producing dry faeces and little urine, they can conserve water. Their body temperature can rise 6-8 degree Celsius before sweating. Diet Dromedaries feed on a variety of wild plants that many other animals avoid, such as dry vegetation, thorns and salty plants. They also sometimes scavenge on bones and dried-out carcasses. Behaviour Dromedaries live in small herds of females and young, and a dominant male. Males defend their harem by spitting, biting and butting opponents. Reproduction Camels have a gestation period of 390- 410 days and they give birth to one calf. Conservation status Dromedaries are extinct in the wild, and exist as domestic animals, although some have turned feral. They are not listed by the IUCN. Notes Dromedaries have been important beasts of burden in the Sahara for thousands of years. They are robust pack animals, can walk for miles a day and provide meat, wool, milk and fuel (their dung can be burnt on a fire). The camel family ( including llamas and alpacas) are unique among mammals in that they have elliptical (oval) blood cells. History Dromedaries are thought to have been domesticated in Arabia about 4000-2000 BC. They then spread to North Africa, East Africa and India.