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7 Types of Camels (With 3 True Camels)

Have you ever heard of a Bactrian camel or a Dromedary camel? There are only a few types of camels, and these are two of the three species of true camel that roam the world today.

In the following article we explore what sets each species of true camel apart, but we’ll also discuss the four other members of the Camelidae family, also known as Camelids, that are closely related to camels.

Types of Camels

First we’ll start with the 3 species of true camels, followed by 4 types of camelids that are related to camels.

1. Bactrian camel

Bactrian camel
Bactrian camel | Image by sharkolot from Pixabay

The Bactrian camel is a large ungulate mammal that is native to the steppes of Central Asia. It has two humps on its back, unlike its single-humped Arabian cousin, the Dromedary camel. Bactrian camels are much larger than their Arabian counterparts and can grow up to seven feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

They are well-adapted to the harsh cold climate of their native habitat, with thick fur and a double layer of eyelashes that protect them from icy winds and blowing sand. The Bactrian camel is an herbivore and feeds on grasses, shrubs, leaves, lichens, mosses, and other vegetation that it finds in its environment.

It can travel up to 30 miles a day without needing to rest and is able to go months without any water at all due to its ability to store fat in its humps. Bactrian camels are also used to carry loads of up to 1,500 pounds for long distances.

They are hardy animals and were first domesticated thousands of years ago. Bactrian camels are now a cultural icon in Central Asia.

2. Dromedary camel

Dromedary camels
Dromedary camels | image by Wolfgang_Hasselmann via Pixabay

The Dromedary, also known as the Arabian camel, is a large mammal that inhabits arid regions of the Middle East and northern Africa. It has one hump on its back, which stores fat and water for long journeys in desert-like climates. The animal is used to transport people and goods across the desert, as well as providing milk, meat, and hides.

The dromedary has a thick coat of fur that helps keep it warm in colder temperatures. Its long legs enable it to run quickly over sand and its wide feet provide traction when traveling through rocky terrain. In addition, its long eyelashes help protect its eyes from wind-blown sand and grit.

The dromedary has become a symbol of resilience and perseverance in the face of extreme desert conditions. Its ancient lineage has made it an integral part of many Arab cultures’ history and folklore. Today, the Dromedary is an iconic symbol of the Middle East and remains an important source of transportation and nutrition for many desert-dwelling communities.

3. Wild Bactrian camel

Wild bactrian camel on the road
Wild bactrian camel on the road | image by John Hill via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

The Wild Bactrian camel is a species of camel native to Central and East Asia. The Wild Bactrian camel is found in parts of northern China, Mongolia, and adjacent regions of Russia. They inhabit deserts, steppes, and other arid regions.

The Wild Bactrian camel is a large animal with two humps on its back, unlike the single-humped dromedary camel of the Middle East and North Africa. Wild Bactrian camels have long necks and reach a height of about 6 feet at most when fully grown.

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Wild Bactrian camels are different from their domesticated counterparts in that they are slightly smaller and have slimmer feet. They are also the only mammals that can tolerate drinking salt water.

Wild Bactrian camels were originally thought to be descendants of the Bactrian camel that had not been domesticated. However, genetic testing shows these two species diverged over 1 million years ago.

4. Guanaco

Guanaco walking
Guanaco walking | image by cuatrok77 via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The guanaco, native to South America, has a long neck, large ears, and a coat that ranges from light fawn to dark brown. Its fur is thicker and coarser than that of its relatives.

The guanaco eats mostly grasses, shrubs, and cacti. It also eats some fruits and flowers when it can find them. The guanaco is an excellent climber and can survive in the high altitudes of the Andes. It is also very well-adapted to the cold temperatures and harsh conditions of the mountain range.

Although guanacos are social animals, they typically live in small groups of five to ten individuals. They communicate with each other through vocalizations and distinctive movements such as head bobbing, stretching, and standing upright on their hind legs.

5. Alpaca

Alpaca | Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The alpaca is a domesticated camelid native to the South American Andes mountains. It has long, soft fur that comes in many colors and patterns. Alpacas are herd animals that live in small groups of up to 25 individuals.

They feed on grasses, shrubs, and leaves and prefer to live at high altitudes. Alpacas are used for their soft wool, which is often spun into yarn and woven into textiles.

They can also be used as livestock guardians, helping to protect other animals from predators. Considered to be gentle and friendly animals, alpacas make popular pets.

6. Vicuna

Vicuna looking for food
Vicuna looking for food | image by Carine06 via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The vicuna is a small species of camelid native to South America. Its habitat ranges from Peru to Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina. Vicunas are unique in their ability to survive at extremely high altitudes; they can be found at elevations over 13,000 ft(4,000 m).

Vicunas are also notable for their thick, luxurious coats of fur which can be shorn and made into clothing. The price of a single vicuna garment can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars. In addition to its valuable wool, the vicuna is an important source of meat and hides in some parts of South America.

7. Llama

Llama on scenic background
Llama on scenic background | Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The llama is traditionally used as a pack animal in the Andes Mountains, where it can carry up to 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of supplies. Llamas are gentle and have even temperaments, making them popular among travelers. They can also be trained to pull small carts or used in shows or competitions.

These social animals enjoy spending time with other llamas, humans, and even other types of animals. They also have a unique way of communicating, using humming sounds to show their feelings.

Llamas are hardy animals that can survive in harsh environments but they need a regular supply of food and water to stay healthy. The wool from llamas is considered to be valuable and can be used to make clothes, blankets, and rugs.

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How Are Camelids Different From Other Animals?

The 7 living species of the Camelidae family are set apart by features such as the shape of their blood cells, padded feet that are not true hooves, and their 3-chambered stomach, different from the traditional 4-chambered stomach of most ruminants.

How Are True Camels Different From Other Camelids?

True camels are distinguished from other Camelids by their long, furry humps. Unlike other members of the family, true camels have two humps that can store fat and provide them with sustenance during dry times when food is scarce.

Another way that true camels differ from other Camelids is in their shape and size. True camels are generally taller and leaner than other species of Camelid, with a long neck, narrow head, large chest cavity, and thick legs.

The 3 living species of true camel are all members of the genus Camelus, while the other 4 Camelid species are members of the genus Lama.