Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Camelidae
Size:    Height: 7 feet (2.1 m) at the hump  Length: 11 to 12 feet (3.3 to 3.6 m)
Weight: 1,320 to 2,200 pounds (600 to 1,000 kg)
Diet: Grass, herbs, branches, leaves
Distribution: Asia
Young:  One calf every other year
Animal Predators:  Tigers
IUCN Status: Endangered
Terms: Young: Calves or Foals
Lifespan: Up to 50 years



·       Camel racing is a popular sport in desert countries.

·       When they moult, camels shed hair that is used for sweaters, paintbrushes, coats, rugs and more.

·       Scientists believe ancestors of the camel lived in North America 40 million years ago.

·       Hungry camels have been known to eat people’s tents, sandals, ropes or blankets.

·       Their preferred foods are plants that are dry, prickly, salty, or bitter.

·       Camels can swim. 

·       All members of the camel family spit, either in frustration or self defence. 



Bactrian (two-humped) camels have shorter legs than dromedary (one-humped) camels, as well as being heavier set, slower and more docile, making them easier to ride. Wild bactrian camels tend to be smaller and more slender than domestic bactrian camels. Their eyes have three eyelids (top, bottom and inner) and long eyelashes to keep out the drifting sands, and their nostrils have special muscles that permit camels to close them to keep out sand while still being able to breathe. Their knees are padded, enabling them to sink down onto them to rest, and their hooves expand in the sand, allowing them to travel across sand without sinking into it. 



Domestic bactrian camels live in Afghanistan, Turkey, Russia, Iran and China. 


Feeding Habits

These two-humped camels are able to go for up to a week without food or drink. Fat stored in the humps on the camels’ backs supply energy. When camels go without food for five to seven days, the humps begin to empty and tilt to one side. Once camels find food, the humps go back to normal. Like cows, all camels chew their cud, which means regurgitating food recently eaten, then chewing it and swallowing it again. This extracts more nutrition from the food.



Most mating activity takes place during winter and spring. Males compete with each other and become aggressive—biting and spitting or even trying to sit on another male. Females are pregnant for 13 months and the calves (also called foals) are able to stand at birth. Although calves begin to eat plants at three months, they continue to nurse until the age of one-and-a-half years or more. Baby camels are born without humps, and do not develop them until they eat solid food. Calves stay with their mother for three to five years.



It was once believed that camels groaned and grunted when rising to their feet under a heavy load because they were complaining, and this led people to think that camels were bad-tempered. Actually, they are good-tempered and patient, and merely groan because they are struggling under the weight, the same as when a person lifts something heavy. Camels are intelligent and can understand voice commands from their owners. Camels provide a number of uses to humans—their coats are trimmed for wool, they produce milk and they can be ridden, raced and used to carry over 1,000 pounds at a time, travelling up to 25 miles per day through the desert.



Bactrian camels were once believed to be extinct in the wild, but a 1957 expedition discovered wild camels in the Gobi Desert, in Mongolia. While domestic camels number over two million, wild Bactrian camels are classified as endangered—it is believed that 300 to 700 are left in the wild. 



Bactrian Camel Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US