A Bactrian Camel lying down
Meet the Animals

Bactrian Camel

  • The Red River Zoo is home to a small herd of Bactrian Camels.

What do I look like?

I am a mammal that resembles a horse. I have a large body with four legs and a long nose. On average, I weigh more than 1,800 pounds and I am over seven feet tall at the hump. That’s heavier than 30 second graders and taller than most adults. I am known for my humps, but unlike my Arabian relatives, I have two humps instead of one.

What do I eat?

I like to eat plants. I like to eat a mixture of shrubs, grass, thorns, and other dry vegetation. I am one of the few animals that will eat salty plants and drink salty water.

Where do I live?

I can be found in Northern Asia, specifically in the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is extremely cold in the winter and very warm in the summer–just like Fargo!

How big is my family?

I was mature enough to have my first calf when I was three years old. After a 13-month pregnancy I gave birth to one calf. We live in a large herd (sometimes called a flock) that has sometimes been as small as six camels but has been larger than 20.

A strong male acts as our leader and we are all related.

How am I adapted for winter?

My relatives and I are known for our ability to adapt to the wide variety of climates we live in. We have an extra set of eyelashes to protect our eyes from blowing sand and snow. I also have unique capillaries (special blood vessels) in my nose that heat the air as I inhale to protect my lungs. During the winter, I grow a long shaggy coat to keep me warm. I shed my coat when the weather gets warmer.

Did You Know?

Camel’s humps store fat, not water. They convert this fat into energy when food is scarce.

Camels can go several weeks without drinking water. When they do drink, they drink a lot. One camel can drink more than 30 gallons of water in less than 10 minutes! That’s enough water to fill a bathtub halfway.

Camels are diurnal creatures. They sleep at night and use the day for activities like searching for food-just like humans.

Camels have been used to transport goods across the desert throughout history because of their unique feet. Unlike other animals with hooves, all their weight rests evenly on their sole-pads and not just the tip of their toes where their hooves are. This adaptation enables them to walk on top of sand and snow instead of sinking into it.

Bactrian camels are critically endangered. Their habitats are disappearing due to human interaction because of mining, industrial development, and farming. Upset farmers often hunt camels in fear they will over-graze and take up their livestock’s food source even when camels are legally protected.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Camelidae

Genus: Camelus