Animals / Mammal Facts / Camels - Camelidae Family, Bright-Eyed Spitters / Bactrian Camel - The Two-hump, Asian Camel

Bactrian Camel - The Two-hump, Asian Camel

two-hump camel


The Bactrian Camel is one of two surviving species of camel. In the wild, they are critically endangered, with just 800 camels roaming around in small areas of central Asia. There about 1.4 million of them in captivity. The captive camels behave differently to the wild camels and even have their own subspecies classification.


A Long History of Domestication

The Dromedary Camel has one hump, while the Bactrian Camel has two humps. The humps are used for the storing of fat. The huge fatty deposits retain water, enabling the camel to survive for long periods without access to water.



baby camel


The Bactrian Camel was domesticated approximately 4,500 years ago, in the region of northern Iran or Northeast Afghanistan. The name comes from the historical region Bactria. One of the big differences between wild Bactrians and captive camels, is the wild camels will drink salty water, from the sea or salt flats. Tame camels do not exhibit this behavior, probably due to humans supplying them with water periodically. And when they start to drink, they get serious, drinking up to 30 gallons in a couple minutes.


Designed to Withstand Heat

If you had to design an animal that could survive desert conditions, you cannot get much better than the Bactrian Camel. They are able to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations, between -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 °C) and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 °C).


brown camel


They are able to eat and digest almost any vegetation they find in desert and semi-desert environments and can happily drink non-potable water. They are fairly large, measuring 2.5m (8.2 feet) to 4m (13 feet) from head to toe, and are equally tall as they are long, from head to ground.

They are strong too, weighing between 300kg (660 lb) and 700kg (1540 lb), they can carry a couple of hundred kilograms of cargo over a distance of 50km (31 miles) per day.

In the wild, they live alone, or in groups of around 30 members. The groups have a single adult make leader. It is best not to mess with this dominant male because he will bite, spit or sit on any male who challenges him.

Bactrian Camels can move both legs on one side of their bodies simultaneously – something few other mammals are capable of. Pregnancy lasts just over a year, on average, and female camels give birth to a single foal that weighs a massive 37kg (81 lb)! They take five years to reach maturity and live for up to 50 years.




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