Camels are the biggest desert mammals and they have adapted in many ways to help them live in extremely dry conditions.
Arabian camels have one hump and live mainly in the Sahara desert and the Middle East. Bactrian camels live in central Asia and have two humps.
A camel’s hump is made of fat, but the camel’s body can break the fat down into food and water when these are scarce.
Camels can go many days or even months without water. But when water is available, they can drink over 200 liters in a day.
The Bactrian’s thick fur helps to keep out the winter cold of the Mongolian high grasslands. The hump of the camel does not store water. It contains fat, which the camel can use as a food store when plants are scarce. However, the fat can be broken down by the camel’s special chemistry to produce water too.
Camels sweat very little, to save moisture. Instead, their body temperature rises by as much as 6°C when it is hot.
The camel’s feet have two joined toes to stop them sinking into soft sand (Arabian camels) or soft snow (Bactrians).
The camel’s nostrils can close up completely to block out sand.
Camels have a double row of eyelashes to protect their eyes from sand and sun.
The camel’s stomach is huge, with three different sections. Like cows, camels are ruminants — this means they partially digest food, then bring it back into their mouths to chew the cud.
Camels have by far the worst smelling breath in the entire animal kingdom.