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Bactrian Camel

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Welcome to everything about the Bactrian Camel. Enjoy reading and exploring about this interesting Animal!

Bactrian Camel


Bactrian camel

The Bactrian camel belongs to the family of Camelidae. This family also includes three other types of camels, as well as Alpacas and Llamas and their respective ancestors. Their domestication occurred already 4,500 BCE and currently almost exclusively exist as a domesticated species. Although closely related, they are distinctly different from Wild Bactrian Camels – the only wild Camelid species and which is critically endangered

As opposed to the dromedary, Bactrian Camels have two humps on their backs. Contrary to popular belief these humps do not contain water. Instead they store fat which is what enables them to go long periods of time without any sustenance. 

Many other adaptations allow them to manage the desert’s extremities. For instance, to withstand sandstorms, their nostrils are able to close and two rows of thick eye lashes shield their eyes. Likewise, they rarely sweat and pass highly concentrated urine in order to retain the most liquid possible. 

Their fur coat comes in various shades of brown and beige. It is their fur that allows them to endure the extreme weathers of the rocky deserts they inhabit. During winter their coat grows thick and rugged to withstand temperatures plunging to -20°F. The coat is then shed almost instantaneously in order to manage degrees of 100°F in summer time. 

Although the Dromedary measures taller at the withers, the Bactrian Camel is nonetheless the largest species in the camelids family with certain Bactrian Camels reaching a whole 2,200 lb. On average though, a male weighs 1,300 lb and female weighs 1000 lb. When fully grown the humps usually measure 7 ft above ground, and their body length reaches between 7,5 ft – 11,5 ft.

Habitat and Distribution 

Bactrian camel in asia

The Bactrian Camel resides in Central Asia, ranging from Afghanistan to China, but they are most prevalent in the Mongolian Steppes and the Gobi desert. 

Bactrian Camels are migratory beings and therefore pass through a large variety of different climates. They typically inhabit landscapes of stoney plains, sand dunes, semi-arid deserts or mountainous areas. What these landscapes all have in common are severe shortages of food sources and water, as well as extreme climates. 

Although the Bactrian Camel is well equipped to survive such conditions, their prevalence is nonetheless closely interlinked with the presence of water. Groups will huddle around springs or rivers to clench their thirst. In winter they resort to eating snow to remain sufficiently hydrated. 

Furthermore, they are social animals and will travel in packs, typically called “caravans”. The total population of Bactrian Camels is currently 2 million individuals, of which the majority is domesticated. In other words, one can safely say that they are not deemed to be nearing endangerment. Especially when compared to their wild counterparts, the Wild Bactrian Camel, whose population is sitting at the small number of 400 individuals.


Bactrian camel in asia

Normally, the Bactrian Camel follows a herbivorous diet. Thanks to their resilient lips and mouth they are essentially able to ingest any kind of plant, be it prickly, thorny, bitter or salty. Seeing as they live in harsh landscapes they cannot afford to be picky eaters. If no plants are available they don’t mind consuming carcasses or chomping on bones. During truly desperate times they have even been known to resort to inedible objects such as ropes and plastic, obviously unaware that they lack nutritional value. 

If Bactrian Camels are in human care they will usually be fed a mixture of hay and various grains. 

Bactrian Camels can go impressive lengths of time without drinking water – for as long as months at a time. When water and food are scarce they are able to survive off of fat stored in their two humps. However, the longer they go without sustenance their humps start shrinking and become increasingly floppy. 

When the Bactrian Camel finally does encounter water they are able to consume huge amounts at a time. If they are really thirsty they can drink as much as 57 gallons of water in one go. 

Mating and Life Cycle 

Bactrian camel on tour

Much the same as all the other species included in the camelids family, Bactrian Camels are induced ovulators. Being induced ovulators means that they do not follow a menstrual cycle, instead ovulation occurs as a response to the physical action of mating and the presence of semen. 

Mothers are pregnant for over a year, usually 13 months, and then continue to nurse their calf for another 1,5 years. Bactrian Camels are precocial, meaning that their babies are fully developed at birth. Baby Bactrian Camels are even able to run within hours of entering the world. A newborn calf weighs roughly 79 lb.

Calves will remain with their mother until they become sexually mature themselves, which occurs between the ages of 3-5 years. Mothers will typically birth a calf every other year, and calves which have not yet left home will often help with caring for them. 

On average domesticated Bactrian Camels reach an age of 40 years old, and slightly less if not domesticated. 

Fun Facts about the Bactrian Camel

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Lets start with the Fun Facts about this special Camel. Did you know that the Bactrian Camel is a two-humped camel native to cold desert regions of Central Asia?

These hardy creatures can withstand harsh winters with temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius due to their thick coat of fur.

Not only are they well-adapted to survive in hostile environments, but Bactrian Camels also have another unique purpose – they’re often used as pack animals by locals in Mongolia and China.

So next time you see a picture of a camel, remember that there’s more to these fascinating creatures!

Thank you for reading. Also have a look at our other Mammal articles, or check the Canadian Marble Fox.

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