Camels have three sets of eyelids and eight sets of eye-lashes which come in double rows. They can drink up to 21 gallons in 10 minutes which would be lethal to most animals because of water overload. The camel can take in large amounts of water, because it's absorbed very slowly, allowing time for equilibration. Camels don't store water in their humps - they store fat - but you knew that. They actually store water in their blood streams.
There are about 15 million camels in the world, but less than 10% of them have two humps. Wild Bactrian camels are as endangered as pandas. It's estimated that there are as few as 650 in China and 450 in Mongolia.
Dromedaries are thriving though, especially Down Under. In 2002 Saudi Arabia started to import camels from Australia to supply its demand for camel meat. Most of their own camels are reared for domestic and racing purposes. Camels were introduced to Australia in the 1840s to provide transport for exploring the outback, there are now over half a million.
When it’s ready to mate, a male camel spreads its legs, places its tail between them, urinates on it and then swishes it over its back. It is likely that pheromones in the urine attract the females. They also become very violent towards other males, and can attack humans.
While being attacked by a camel, you might think he was sticking his tongue out, but this is not a tongue, but a soft palate called a 'dulaa'. It looks like a deflated red balloon and when in rut, the male camel takes a deep breath, closes his nostrils and blows wind into the palate from his trachea. The dulaa protrudes for a few seconds, there is a sound of ‘bloo, bloo, bloo’ accompanied by lots of saliva before it collapses and is withdrawn into the mouth. The size of the dulaa corresponds to how much testosterone the camel has in his blood, the more virile the male, the longer its dulaa.
During the actual mating, male camels dribble constantly and stare into the distance. Afterwards they sometimes fall onto their sides and lie motionless for a few minutes. They can mate up to eight times a day.
Camel cigarettes were launched in 1913 by a firm with no experience of making cigarettes. In their first year they made one million, the next year 400 million, and by 1919, 20 billion. By 1919, Camel accounted for almost 40% of the cigarettes sold in the USA. Slogans used by Camel cigarettes in the 1940s included ‘More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette’, and ‘Not a Single Case of Throat Irritation Due to Smoking Camels’. In 1991 a study found that as many six-year-olds recognised the firm's logo, Joe Camel, as recognised Mickey Mouse.
Camels look like the first letter of their species name:
Almost all racing camels these days are ridden by little robots. Camel racing is a big business in the Middle East. It's a recently revived tradition, started by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in 1974. There are about 14,000 racing camels in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); top-flight ones are fed milk and honey and exercised on treadmills and in swimming pools. The old system relied on thousands of child jockeys taken from their parents and living in dreadful conditions. Under international pressure, the UAE banned child jockeys in 2005 – they now have to be 16 or over, and can't weigh less than seven stone.
So, in 2005, the UAE and Qatar started using robot jockeys. The prototypes were designed in Switzerland; the new jockeys had GPS, hands to control the reins and whip, and could monitor the camel's heart rate. They were also dressed up in hats, sunglasses and given proper heads because in early experiments the inhuman robots spooked the camels.
Newer models weigh just a few kilos and cost about $500 each. The robots whip the camels by remote control as the managers follow in a truck. They are far lighter than the child jockeys, and, obviously, it's much less inhumane.
Good advice is worth a camel.
One camel does not make fun of the other camel's hump.
In Somali there are 46 different words for camel.
Camel urine is as thick as syrup.