According to the BBC, camels have adapted by developing features that preserve water and fat within their body to ensure survival in the hot and dry desert climate. Other features that camels have adapted include long eyelashes, nostrils that close and wide feet.
Camels are called "ships of the desert" because of their numerous and unique physical traits that enable them survive in harsh desert climates, particularly their ability to consume very little water without dehydrating. There are several species of camels, such as the Arabian camel and Bactrian camel, which vary slightly in physical appearance, but share a suite of characteristics and physical features, such as broad flat feet and a double row of eyelashes, to help them survive in hot and arid deserts.
Only some camels can swim. According to The Times of India, experts have confirmed that a unique breed of camels, known as Kharai, can swim up to three kilometers, or nearly two miles, in the sea. They do so while seeking mangroves to feed on.
Depending on their needs, camels can drink up to 114 liters of water in a 10-minute sitting. If fresh water is unavailable, they may drink salty or brackish water. However, during the winter, only their food provides water.
Arabian or dromedary camels, which have one hump, live in Northern Africa, Southwestern Asia and Australia, while Bactrian camels, which have two humps, lives in Mongolia and China. Most of the world's camels are domesticated and live with nomadic people in desert regions. The largest camel population is on the Horn of Africa in the countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti.
Camels store fat reserves in their humps that provide them with enough nutrition to survive for months in hot, dry climates. The fatty, watery substance in their humps can fuel their bodies during famines. A camel's metabolism allows it to lose up to 40 percent of its body fluid before dehydration becomes a problem. This energy efficient mammal can drink up to 30 gallons of water in one sitting.
Camels protect themselves from predators by regurgitating their stomach contents mixed with saliva in a projectile fashion. This practice is commonly referred to as spitting. According to the San Diego Zoo, when camels spit, it is meant to startle and distract potential predators.
Dromedary camels have one hump, while Bactrian camels have two humps. Dromedaries live in the deserts of the Middle East and north Africa. Bactrian camels live in northeastern Asia.
A baby camel is known as a calf. Female camels generally only give birth to one calf after a 13-month pregnancy.
When temperatures rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, camels can survive for about five days without drinking water. During the winter, camels can survive six or seven months without drinking water. During that time, they may obtain moisture from plants they consume.
The average life expectancy of a camel is 40 to 50 years. Their natural predators include leopards, lions and humans. Camels were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago and no longer exist in the wild.
One-humped and two-humped camels are two entirely different species. The two-humped species is the Bactrian camel, while the one-humped species is the dromedary. Bactrian camels are an Asiatic species, named after Bactria in Central Asia, whereas dromedaries are a North African species.
Dromedary camels stand an average of 5.9 to 6.6 feet tall, and Bactrian camels stand an average of 5.2 feet to 5.9 feet. Camel height is generally measured from the bottom of the camel's feet to its shoulders.
Camels spit in order to surprise, distract or generally ward off a threat. The “spit” from a camel is more than just saliva. It is mixed with the camel’s stomach contents as well.
Camels have nucleated red blood cells because the cells help continue blood flow during times when water is scarce. The blood cells can significantly expand during rehydration. They are capable of expanding up to 240 percent of their original volume. Normal red blood cells can only expand 150 percent.
Female camels are called cows. A cow camel may mate with a bull camel when she is two years old but won't usually produce a calf until she is five years old. A typical camel cow produces up to eight baby camels in her lifetime.
A camel, like a cow or llama, has one stomach with four separate chambers that are used in different stages of the camel's digestive process. Mammals that utilize four-compartment stomachs to break down their food are called ruminants.
Camels possess several inheritable traits that increase its survival rate in harsh desert climates. The most glaring attribute of the camel is the large hump on the animal’s back. Dromedaries (one hump) and Bactrian camels (two humps) use the hump(s) to store up to 80 pounds of fat. The fat is broken-down to supply the animals with energy and moisture to survive the long treks through the desert.
Camels have 34 teeth. Like other mammals, they start out with baby teeth that are eventually replaced with a permanent set of teeth as the camels mature.
Camels, who are capable of storing water within their bodies, are most often found in desert environments. However, the specifics of their habitats depend upon the breed.
The dromedary or Arabian camel is a one-humped camel found throughout the Middle East and southern Africa. It stores large amounts of fat tissue in its hump that it converts into energy and water, making the dromedary capable of traveling long distances without water or food. The rarer Bactrian camel is two-humped and found in central Asia.