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What do camels eat?

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A camel is an animal belonging to the Camelidae family with a characteristic hump at its back. The even-toed ungulate has been extensively domesticated by man and offers a mode of transportation, milk, and meat. The animals may be split into two kinds on a broad scale, notably dromedary and Bactrian camels. The former variety has one hump, whereas the latter has two humps. Bactrian camels are native to the central areas of Asia, whereas the dromedary is endemic to Northern Africa and the Middle East. Regardless of the species and region, these animals are similar in their diet and eating behaviors.

What Do Camels Eat?

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Middle Eastern Camels In The Desert Near Al Ain, Uae (Image Credit: Getty Images)

The sole remaining member of the suborder Tylopoda are camels, which are classified in the genus Camelus. 94 percent of the camels in the world are one-humped dromedaries, also called Arabian camels. The other 6 percent are two-humped Bactrian camels. A distinct species, the Wild Bactrian, is severely endangered.

Because dromedary camels are so prevalent, “dromedary” is used interchangeably with “camel.” In a broader sense, the term “camelid” may apply to any member of the family Camelidae. This includes not just the “real camels,” but also the alpaca, llama, vicuna, and guanaco, all of which are New World camelids.

Camels can not only tolerate terrible temperatures that would kill most other mammals, but they can also live for months. Most mammals can only live a few days without food for at least a few weeks. We can thus see that the camel’s physical toughness will have to compensate for the shortage of water in the desert. The large hump of the camel comes in handy since it can last up to six months without water. As it uses the fat for fuel, the hump grows smaller. Dehydrated water can drink as much as 53 gallons (200 liters) of water in three minutes, allowing it to get the most out of whatever water it does find.

But what about its diet? A camel consumes twigs, shrubs, dry grasses, leaves, thorns, and other plants such as saltbushes and cactus. It consumes practically all sections of a plant. However, they are not entirely herbivores and may become omnivores if required, turning to eat carrion, bones, and fish when foliage is limited. The Bactrian or two-humped camel is the last really wild species extant today.

The camel is fed alfalfa pellets, fruits, vegetables, Bermuda hay, grains, salt blocks, and vitamin and mineral supplements in the zoo. The dromedary, Arabian or one-humped camel has been tamed, and it’s found in desert caravans or in captivity. There are only feral forms that have gotten out from zoos and are now roaming the wild.

How do camels locate food?

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Camel are eating leaves of tree at Thar desert of Pakistan. Due to shortage of water and lack of rains green pasture are very rare and animal have to eat every available food to fill their stomach (Image Credit: Getty Images)

In the desert, camels must have a diet of whatever is around them that may offer them the nutrients they require. Hence, they are opportunistic foragers that can eat even prickly plants, like goats. Their digestive processes enable them to eat roughage to take advantage of the most bountiful plants.

How do camels eat?

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Camel was eating leaves (Image Credit: Getty Images)

Camels are herbivore, cud-chewing mammals but are not natural ruminants, sometimes known as pseudo ruminants. It is a common misconception that ruminants have several stomachs because of their multi-chambered gastrointestinal tracts. These stomachs have separate regions that are optimized for herbivore diets. Camels and all other camelids are missing the fourth stomach compartment called the omasum, which squeezes the fluid out of the food – something which they don’t need in the desert, anyhow. Instead, they contain glandular sacs for specific digestion processes. They also have giant mouths with leathery lips that enable them to eat prickly plants.

Camels are said to drink water.

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Camels by road, Dundgov, Mongolia (Image Credit: Getty Images)

During heated temperatures, camels may go for days without water and sustain large quantities of dehydration. For example, the dromedary camel may live by drinking water once every two weeks or so. During winter, when there is more food, this length of living without water is enhanced since greener plants imply that camels obtain water from the plants when grazing. The length of this prolonged time of surviving without water relies on the greenness of the plants. When they come upon the water, camels may drink up to 200 liters of water, around 53 US gallons.

List of Foods Camels Eat

Wild camels eat:

  • Dried grasses
  • Desert shrubs
  • Twigs, stems, leaves, and seeds
  • the earliest of the precious stones
  • Saltbushes, cactus, and other thorny plants
  • Carrion, bones, and fish

Camels in captivity eat:

  • Alfalfa pellets
  • Carrots, apples, dates, and other fruits and vegetables
  • Bermuda hay
  • Dried grass
  • Wheat, oats, and other grains
  • Blocks of salt
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements

Also Read: Top 10 ugly birds
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