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Camels

DromedaryDromedary Camels are even-toed ungulates—animals with hooves instead of claws. The camel group includes two "true" camels, the dromedary and the Bactrian, and the more distantly related members of the llama family that live in South America. Camels live in deserts or dry scrublands, and have adapted to be able to survive in the harshest of conditions. All dromedaries and most Bactrian camels are domesticated; a few wild Bactrians still roam the Gobi Desert. The feral camels of the Australian deserts are descended from dromedaries that were imported in the 19th century. 

Bactrian camels in the mountains of Jammu and KashmirBactrian camels in the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir
Camels' eyelashes keep out the sandCamels' eyelashes keep out the sand

Desert living

Camels are desert animals. Their flat, wide feet help them to walk over soft sand, and they can even close their nostrils to stop sand blowing in. Using their large, tough lips, camels will eat dry, thorny plant material that other animals would not, and they can go long periods without food or water. 

Camels rarely sweat, even in temperatures of 50°C (about 120°F). When a camel breathes out, the water vapour in its breath is trapped in its nostrils and is reabsorbed into its body—a way of conserving water.

Dromedary camelDromedary camelCamel footCamel footThe camel's humps are not stores of water, as was once thought, but actually food stores in the form of fat. Their bodies conserve as much water as possible. When they do drink, they can take in large volumes of water in a short time.

Instead of hooves, camels have broad, two-toed feet, each with a cushion-like pad that spreads out when they put their feet on the ground. This supports them on the loose sand so that they do not sink in. Camels can comfortably carry large loads for up to about 40 kilometres (25 miles) a day across the hot desert.

Camels can go without drinking water for months. When they do drink, they can gulp down over 100 litres (about 400 cupfuls) at a time.

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