Camels (Camelus) - a genus of mammalian animals belonging to the family of camelids (Camelidae) and the corpus callosus (Camelidae). Large representatives of the cloven-hoofed squad (Artiodactyla) are well adapted for living in arid regions, including deserts, semi-deserts and steppes.
The mass of the average adult camel varies between 500-800 kg, with a height at the withers of not more than 200-210 cm. One-humped camels have a reddish-gray color, and two-humped camels are characterized by a dark brown color of the cover.
Camels have curly fur, a long and arched neck, and small, rounded ears. Representatives of the family of camelids and the corpus callosum are characterized by the presence of 38 teeth, of which ten are represented by molars, two canines, ten molars, two molars, a pair of canines and twelve molars.
Thanks to the long and shaggy eyelashes, the large eyes of the camel are reliably protected from the ingress of sand and dust, and the nostrils, alkalis, if necessary, can hide very tightly. The camel has excellent vision, so the animal is able to see a moving person at a distance of a kilometer, and a car - even five kilometers away. A large desert animal perfectly smells the smell of water and plants.
It is interesting! A camel is able to smell the territory of a fresh pasture or the presence of fresh water even fifty kilometers away, and when he sees thunderclouds in the sky, a desert animal sets off in their direction, hoping to get into a place with heavy rains.
The mammal is quite well adapted to life in harsh and waterless areas, and also has special pectoral, carpal, ulnar and prickly corns, which often come in contact with incandescent soil up to 70 ° C. The thick enough fur of the animal is intended to protect it from the scorching sun and nocturnal colds. Fingers connected by a common sole. Wide and two-fingered camel feet are well adapted for movement on small stones and loose sands.
A camel is not able to lose a significant amount of fluid along with natural bowel movements. Moisture, which is released from the nostrils during breathing, is easily collected inside a special fold, after which it enters the oral cavity of the animal. Camels for a long time can do without water, but about 40% of the total body weight is lost.
One of the specific special adaptations of camels for life in the desert is the presence of humps, which are large fat deposits and serve as a kind of "roof" that protects the back of the animal from the rays of the scorching sun. Among other things, a high concentration of such fat reserves of the whole body in the back area contributes to good thermal return. Camels are excellent swimmers, and when moving in the water such animals characteristically tilt their body slightly to the side.
Character and lifestyle
In the wild, a camel tends to settle, however, such an animal constantly moves through different desert territories, as well as on rocky plains or large foothills, trying to be within large, already marked areas. Any Haptagai prefer to move between rare water sources, which allows them to replenish their vital water supplies.
As a rule, camels are kept in small herds, including from five to twenty individuals. The leader of such a herd is the main male. Such desert animals show activity mainly in the daytime, and with the onset of the dark, camels sleep or behave rather sluggishly and somewhat apathetically. In hurricane periods, camels can lie for days, and on hot days they move against wind flows, which contributes to effective thermoregulation, or hide in bushes and ravines. Wild individuals are characterized by timidity and some aggressiveness towards outsiders, including humans.
It is interesting! The practice is well-known, according to which horses are grazed in winter, easily whipping the snow cover with hooves, after which camels are started on such a site, picking up the rest of the feed.
When signs of danger appear, the camels run away, easily developing speeds of up to 50-60 km / h. Adult animals can run for two or three days, until they are completely exhausted. Experts believe that natural endurance and large sizes often can not save a desert animal from death, due to a small mental development.
The lifestyle of domesticated individuals is completely subordinate to people, and feral animals quickly get used to lead the lifestyle characteristic of ancestors. Adult and fully mature males are able to inhabit one by one. The onset of the winter period is a difficult test for camels, which are very difficult to move around in the snow. Among other things, the absence of true hooves in such animals makes it impossible to dig out food from under the snow.
How many camels live
In favorable conditions, camels may well live about four decades, but such a solid life expectancy is still more characteristic of fully domesticated specimens. Among the wild Haptagai quite often there are quite large individuals, whose age is fifty years.
Types of camels
The genus of camels is represented by two species:
One-humped camels (dromedaries, dromedaries, Arabians) - Camelus dromedarius, have survived to this day exclusively in the domesticated form, and can also be represented by wild-headed individuals for the second time. The Dromedary, translated from Greek, is “running”, and such animals are named “Arabians” in honor of the tame inhabitants of Arabia.
Dromedars, along with Bactrians, have very long and callous legs, but with a slimmer build. Compared with the two-humped, the one-humped camel is much smaller, therefore the body length of an adult is no more than 2.3-3.4 m, with a height at the withers of 1.8-2.1 m. The average weight of an adult one-humped camel varies at the level of 300-700 kg.
Dromedars have a head with elongated facial bones, a convex forehead, and a hunch-bearing profile. The lips of the animal, compared with horses or cattle, do not compress at all. Cheeks are enlarged, and the lower lip is most often saggy. The neck of one-humped camels is characterized by well-developed muscles.
It is interesting! A small size of the mane grows along the entire upper edge of the cervical spine, and a short beard is present on the lower part, reaching the middle of the neck. On the forearms, the edge is completely absent. In the area of the shoulder blades there is an edge, having the form of "epaulettes" and represented by long curly hair.
Also, one-humped camels differ from their two-humped counterparts in that it is extremely difficult to tolerate even slight frosts. Nevertheless, the coat of the dromedaries is quite dense, but not too thick and relatively short. The fur of a single-humped camel is not intended for warming and only helps to prevent too much fluid loss.
On cold nights, the body temperature of one-humped camels drops significantly, and under sunlight the animal warms up very slowly. The longest hair covers the neck, back and head of a one-humped camel. Dromedaries are predominantly sandy, but there are representatives of the species that have dark brown, reddish-gray or white fur.
Bactrian camels, or Bactrians (Camelus bactrianus), are the largest representatives of the genus, which are the most valuable pets for a large number of Asian peoples. Bactrian camels owe their name to Bactria. This area on the territory of Central Asia became famous for the domestication of a two-humped camel. Also, there is currently a small number of representatives of the wild two-humped camels, called Haptagai. Several hundred of these individuals today live in China and Mongolia, where they prefer the most inaccessible natural landscapes.
Bactrian camels are very large, massive and heavy animals. The average body length of an adult of this species reaches 2.5-3.5 m, with a height within 1.8-2.2 meters. The height of the animal, together with the humps, may well reach 2.6-2.7 m. The length of the tail portion most often varies between 50-58 cm. As a rule, the weight of a sexually mature two-humped camel ranges from 440-450 to 650-700 kg. A well-fed male of a camel of a very valuable and popular Kalmyk breed can weigh from 780-800 kg to a ton, and the weight of the female most often ranges from 650-800 kg.
Bactrian camels have a dense body, as well as fairly long limbs. Bactrians are markedly distinguished by a particularly long and curved neck, which initially has a downward deflection, and then rises again. Due to this peculiarity of the neck structure, the animal’s head is characteristically located in line with the shoulder section. The humps of all representatives of this species are located from each other with a distance of 20-40 cm. The space between them is called the saddle, and is often used as a place for a person to plant.
The standard distance from the interhump saddle to the surface of the earth, as a rule, is about 170 cm. So that a person can climb the back of a two-humped camel, the animal kneels or lies on the ground. It should be noted that the space that is located at the camel between two humps is not filled with fatty deposits, even in the most adult and well-fed individuals.
It is interesting! Bactrian camels, which have a light coat color, are the rarest individuals, the number of which is no more than 2.8 percent of the total population.
The main indicators of the fatness and health of the two-humped camel are represented by elastic, evenly standing humps. Skinny animals have humps that partially or completely roll sideways, so they hang out a lot during walking. Adult two-humped camels are distinguished by an extremely thick and dense coat with the presence of a very well-developed undercoat, ideal for the existence of an animal in rather harsh continental climatic conditions, characterized by a sultry summer period and cold, snowy winters.
It is noteworthy that in winter habitats habitual for animals in winter, the thermometer column often drops even below minus 40 degrees, but the two-humped camel is able to bear such severe frosts painlessly and easily thanks to the special fur structure. The hairs of the coat have internal cavities, which significantly reduce the thermal conductivity of the fur. Thin hairs of the undercoat retain air well.
The average length of the hair of the Bactrian is 50-70 mm, and on the lower part of the cervical region and the tops of the humps are hair, the length of which often exceeds a quarter meter. The longest hair coat grows among the representatives of the species in the autumn period, so in winter such animals look quite pubescent. In the spring, bivalves begin to molt, and the coat falls to shreds. At this time, the animal has an untidy, messy and shabby appearance.
Common for a two-humped camel is a brown-sand color with varying degrees of intensity. Some individuals have a very dark or completely light, sometimes even reddish color.
Camels of both species are quite widespread only in desert zones, as well as in dry steppes. Such large animals are absolutely not adapted to too humid climatic conditions or living in mountainous areas. Domesticated species of camels are currently common in many areas of Asia and Africa.
Dromedaries are often found in northern Africa, up to one degree south latitude, as well as in the Arabian Peninsula and in central Asia. In the nineteenth century, such animals were introduced into Australia, where they were able to quickly adapt to unusual climatic conditions. To date, the total number of such animals in Australia is fifty thousand individuals.
It is interesting!Bactrians are quite widespread in regions running from Asia Minor to Manchuria. Currently, there are about nineteen million camels in the world, and approximately fourteen million individuals live in Africa.
In Somalia today there are about seven million individuals, and in Sudan - just over three million camels. Wild dromedaries became extinct, as is supposed, at the beginning of our era. Their most probable ancestral home was represented by the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, but at present it has not been fully established whether his ancestors were wild-shaped dromedaries or were a common ancestor with Bactrian. N. M.
Przhevalsky on the Asian expedition for the first time discovered the existence of two-humped wild camels of the Haptagai. Their existence at that time was assumed, but was not confirmed, therefore disputed.
Today, wild bactrian populations exist only in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and in Mongolia. The presence of only three separated populations was noted there, and the total number of animals in them at present is about one thousand individuals. Nowadays, questions are actively being considered regarding the acclimatization of two-humped wild camels in the conditions of the Yakutsk Pleistocene park zone.
Camels are typical representatives of ruminants. Both species use hodgepodge and wormwood, as well as camel thorn and saxaul for food. Camels are able to drink even salt water, and all the liquid in the body of such animals is stored inside the cell of the rumen of the stomach. All representatives of the corpus callosum suborder very well and easily tolerate dehydration. The main source of water for the camel is fat. The oxidation process of one hundred grams of fat makes it possible to obtain about 107 g of water and carbon dioxide.
It is interesting!Wild camels are very cautious and distrustful animals, so they prefer to die from lack of water or food, but never come too close to people.
Even in conditions of prolonged lack of water, the blood of camels does not thicken at all. Such animals belonging to the corpus callosus can survive about two weeks without water at all and about one month without food. Even despite such simply amazing stamina, nowadays, wild camels more often than other animals suffer from a noticeable reduction in the number of watering places. This situation is explained by the active development of desert areas by people with the presence of fresh natural reservoirs.
Breeding and offspring
The reproductive age of camels begins at about three years old. Pregnancy in females of a one-humped camel lasts thirteen months, and in females of a two-humped camel, one month longer. Reproduction of one- and two-humped camels occurs according to the scheme characteristic of most artiodactyl animals.
The rutting season is quite dangerous not only for the camel itself, but also for people. Sexually mature males at this time become extremely aggressive, and in the process of fighting for the female, they are completely without hesitation able to attack the opponent and the person. Cruel battles between males very often end in severe injuries and even the death of the losing side. During such fights, large animals use not only powerful hooves, but also teeth.
Mating camels occurs in the winter, when the rainy season begins in the desert areas, providing animals with enough water and food. However, the dromedary race begins a little earlier, compared with the Bactrian. The female, as a rule, gives birth to one well-developed cub, but sometimes a couple of camels are born. After a few hours, the camel fully gets to its feet, and is also able to run after its mother.
It is interesting! The struggle of sexually mature camels consists in the desire of the male to knock down his opponent from his feet in order to further trample the opponent.
Camels vary markedly in size and weight.. For example, a newborn baby of a two-humped camel can weigh only 35-46 kg, with a height of 90 cm. And small dromedaries, with almost the same height, have a weight of 90-100 kg. Regardless of species, females feed their offspring up to six months or a year and a half. Animals take care of their cubs until they are fully grown.
Currently, the ranges of the tiger and the camel do not intersect, but in the past, numerous tigers often attacked not only wild, but also domesticated animals. Tigers shared the same territory with wild camels near Lake Lob Nor, but disappeared from these territories after irrigation. The large size did not save the Bactrian, therefore, cases are well known when a tiger nibbled camels that were bogged down in the bog of the salt marsh. Frequent tiger attacks on camels kept at home have been a major cause of human predator harassment in many camel breeding areas.
It is interesting! The most common diseases of camels include trypanosomiasis and influenza, camel plague and echinococcosis, as well as itchy scabies.
Another dangerous enemy of the camel is the wolf, which annually reduces the population of wild artiodactyls. For domesticated camels, the wolf also poses a significant threat, and a large representative of the corpus callosum suborder suffers from such a predator due to natural fear. When the wolves attack, the camels do not even try to defend themselves, they just shout loudly and spit quite actively with the contents accumulated in the stomach. Even crows are quite capable of pecking wounds on the body of an animal - camels, in which case, show their absolute defenselessness.
Population and species status
Unlike one-humped camels, which disappeared from the wild in prehistoric times and are now found in natural conditions only as second-run wild animals, the two-humped ones have survived in the wild.
It is interesting! Wild camels are listed in the International Red Book, where the category CR is assigned to such animals - a species that is in critical danger.
Nevertheless, wild two-humped camels became extremely rare at the beginning of the last century, so today they are on the verge of extinction. According to some reports, wild camels are now in eighth place among all endangered mammals in terms of threat.
Camels and man
Camels have long been domesticated by humans and are very actively used in business activities:
- "Nar"- a large-sized animal, weighing up to a ton. This hybrid was obtained by crossing a single-humped arvana with a two-humped Kazakh camel. A distinctive feature of such individuals is the presence of one large, as if consisting of a pair of parts, hump. Nars are bred by humans primarily due to worthy milking qualities. The average milk yield of one individual annually is about two thousand liters;
- "Kama"- a popular hybrid obtained by crossing a camel-dromedary with a llama. Such an animal is notable for its low height within 125-140 cm and low weight, rarely exceeding 65-70 kg. There is no standard hump in kam, but such an animal has a very good carrying capacity, due to which it is actively used as a pack in the most inaccessible places;
- "Inera", or "Iners"- one-humped giants with a magnificent coat. This hybrid was obtained by crossing a female camel of Turkmen breed with a male arvana;
- "Jarbai"- a practically non-viable and rather rare hybrid, which is born as a result of pairing a pair of hybrid camels;
- "Kurt"- a one-humped and not very popular hybrid obtained by mating a female iner with a camel-male of the Turkmen breed. The animal is distinguished by very decent milkings, but the milk obtained has too low a percentage of fat content;
- "Kaspak"- a very popular hybrid form, obtained by mating a male Bactrian with a female Nara. Such animals are raised mainly to obtain high milk yield and an impressive mass of meat;
- "Kes-nar"- one of the most common hybrid forms obtained by crossing a kaspak with a camel of the Turkmen breed. One of the largest in size and milk production animals.
Man actively uses camel milk and fat, as well as meat of young individuals. Nevertheless, quality camel wool, which is used in the manufacture of incredibly warm clothes, blankets, shoes and other things that people need, is most valued today.