Camel adaptations to their habitat are essential for their survival. They have a number of physical and physiological adaptations that enable them to live in harsh weather conditions and survive on limited resources.
While most people think that camels are desert animals, they are actually quite versatile and can be found in a variety of habitats. You can always find a camel anywhere you go, from the mountains of Mongolia to the coastal plains of Australia to the deserts of Africa and Asia.
In fact, there are only a handful of places in the world where you won’t find these fascinating creatures. So read on to learn more about these amazing animals and their unique adaptations:
12 Camel Adaptions
Camels have several features that help them live comfortably in harsh conditions. These include:
1. They Have Thick, Long Eyelashes
Camels have long eyelashes to protect their eyes from sand and dust. The lashes keep foreign particles out of the camel’s eyes while also shielding the eyes from the harsh desert sun.
In addition, the eyelashes help reduce evaporation from the eye’s surface, keeping the eyeball moist and healthy. As a result, the camel’s long eyelashes are an adaptation that helps the animal to thrive in its desert environment.
2. They Have the Ability to Close Their Nostrils
When camels are in a dusty or sandy area, they can close their nostrils to keep the dust particles from their noses. This adaptation is helpful in desert conditions where there is a lot of blowing dry sand. It also prevents irritation and respiratory problems caused by inhaling sand and dust particles.
The ability to close their nostrils also helps camels to conserve water. By keeping dry sand and dust out, camels can avoid losing moisture through their noses. This is key in desert conditions where water is scarce, and the animal needs to conserve every drop.
3. They Have Wide Pads on Their Feet
In desert conditions, the ground is often sandy and loose. This can make it difficult for animals to walk without slipping and sinking into the sand. To overcome this, camels have wide pads on their feet that help them distribute their weight evenly and walk on the sand without sinking.
These pads also help the camel to keep its balance when walking on uneven or rocky terrain, especially in mountainous regions.
4. They Have Long Legs
Camels have long legs that help them easily cover large distances in a short amount of time. In the desert, where water is scarce and the heat unbearable, this is an essential adaptation as it helps them conserve water.
Their long legs also help them regulate their body temperature. They do this by elevating their bodies off the ground and keeping them away from the heat of the sand. This way, the camel can stay cool in the hot desert climate.
5. Camels Have a Specially Adapted Digestive System
Camels can go for long periods without drinking water. Instead, they get the moisture they need from the plants they eat. The camel’s ability to extract moisture from plants is due to its specially adapted digestive system, which breaks down plant fibers and extracts moisture more efficiently than other animals. As a result, camels are able to survive on a diet that would easily kill other animals.
6. They Have Thick Ear Hairs
Camel ear hairs are not just for show! These thick, bristly hairs serve an essential purpose: they help to keep sand out of the camel’s ears, preventing irritation and infection.
They also help regulate body temperature by trapping a layer of air against the skin, keeping the camel warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. As a result, camel’s ear hairs play a vital role in the camel’s ability to survive in harsh desert conditions.
7. Camels Have a Coat of Thick Fur
Camels have a coat of thick fur that helps protect them from harsh desert conditions. The fur comprises two layers, an outer layer of long, coarse hair and an inner layer of shorter, softer hair. This double layer provides insulation against the daytime desert heat and the nighttime cold.
The fur coat also protects the camel’s skin, preventing it from drying out. It does this by trapping a layer of air against the skin, which helps to keep the camel’s body temperature regulated. In addition, the fur deflects wind and sand, further protecting the camel from the elements.
8. They Can Swim
Another adaptation that is less well known is the camel’s ability to swim. Although camels are not particularly graceful in the water, they can paddle for long distances, usually up to 1.9 miles (3km), using their powerful legs and webbed feet.
This adaptation is helpful for crossing rivers or for swimming between islands to reach grazing areas. Their ability to swim is also useful when escaping from predators such as lions or tigers.
9. They Have a Large Surface Area to Volume Ratio
One of the camel’s most essential adaptations is its large surface area to volume ratio. This means that, compared to other animals of similar size, the camel has a larger body surface area relative to its overall volume.
This is advantageous in deserts because it allows the camel to lose heat more efficiently. In hot climates, animals with a large surface area to volume ratio can cool down more quickly by radiation and convection. This adaptation is especially important for camels because they can withstand body temperatures that would be lethal for other animals.
By losing heat quickly, camels can stay cooler for more extended periods of time, making them well-suited for life in the desert.
10. Camels Have Two Knees on Each Leg
Camels have a “double-jointed” knee on each leg that allows them to sit down and kneel on the ground. It also enables them to maintain a stable position even when resting on uneven ground, which is essential in an environment where the sand dunes can shift rapidly. Additionally, it allows them to fold their legs more easily so that they can rest or sleep without expending too much energy.
11. They Have a Hump on Their Back
One of the most distinctive features of camels is their hump. While most people believe that camels store water in their hump, they don’t. Instead, their hump is made up of fat reserves that can be used for energy when there is scarcity of food, allowing the camel to survive for extended periods without food or water.
In addition, the hump helps to stabilize the camel’s body and allows it to travel long distances without tiring. This adaptation is crucial in the desert, where food and water are scarce and conditions are often sweltering.
12. Camels Lose Little Water Through Perspiration and Urination
Camels can go for long periods without eating and drinking water. When they drink, they can consume up to 52 gallons of water in just a few minutes. They don’t sweat like other mammals, so they don’t lose much water through perspiration.
Additionally, they urinate very little and solidify the waste in their intestines to prevent losing water through feces. In fact, their feces are quite dry, and their urine is thick and syrupy.