We tend to get our camel facts in bits and pieces. We know that some camels have one hump, others have two, and they are famous for being able to go long distances or periods with out water. We’ve heard that they can be easy to ride, or uncomfortable to ride, depending on who you talk to. We tend to associate them with desert areas, and may have even heard that they once roamed free in the state of Nevada.
While any list of camel facts can be lengthy, let’s try to put together some information that gives a good picture as to where this animal comes from, what it is like, and how it is used. First of all, the camel is an ungulate, an animal that has hoofs. There are two true camels, the dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) which has single hump, and the Bactrian camel (Cameulus bactrianus) which has two humps.
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The dromedaries are mostly found where we tend to expect them, in the arid regions of northern Africa. Nearly half of the dromedaries living today will be found in Somalia and Ethiopia, the remainder are spread across North Africa from Sudan to Morocco. The bactrain camel exists in much smaller numbers, and live mostly in northern Asia.
Both species were introduced into the United States in the 1800’s, with the United States Army using them as draft animals for a short time. This experiment did not prove to be successful, as horses could not easily be used alongside the camels (horses do not like the small of the camel), and the troops never became accustomed to them. Many of the animals were simply allowed to run free and were spotted roaming free in the southwest, especially in Nevada, from time to time for a number of years. There is a feral population if the Australian Outback, thought to be several hundred thousand in number. While native to Africa and Asia, the true camels have cousins in South America, those being the vicuña, alpaca, and the llama.
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