Baby Camel

Reading Time: 7 mins

Welcome, fellow desert explorer! As we navigate the vast, challenging terrain, we come across an exciting sight - a baby camel. These amazing creatures, often affectionately called calves, begin their journey in life designed for survival in the arid regions of the world, embodying nature's superb adaptability.


Long Pregnancy

Let's begin with the fascinating fact that the gestation period for a camel lasts an average of 12 to 14 months. Now, that's quite a wait, isn't it? This longer development inside the mother's womb allows the baby camel to be born more mature, preparing it for the tough life that awaits in the desert. The miracle of birth happens mostly at night when temperatures are cooler and the herd is at rest, providing a safer environment for this critical event.



They are Born without Hump

Now, you might wonder, how do these baby camels adapt to the scorching desert heat? Nature has a fascinating answer. Baby camels are born without humps! Yes, you read that right. The hump, which is essentially a fat reserve, starts to develop as the baby camel grows and starts eating solid food, usually around six months old.


Long Eyelashes

Baby camels are born with long, luxurious eyelashes. And while they may add to their adorable appearance, these aren't just for show. Their eyelashes create a shield, protecting their eyes from blowing sand in the desert. Now that's some natural protective gear, right?


Excessive Milk Drinkers

Have you ever wondered how camel calves quench their thirst in the arid desert climate they call home? Just like adult camels, the young ones also have an impressive ability to retain water. However, it's the feeding that helps them remain hydrated. They can drink up to 30 liters of milk a day from their mothers!



Born with Teeth

While human babies are born without teeth, camel calves have a different story. These resilient little animals are born with tiny milk teeth that allow them to start grazing on some types of vegetation within a week or so of their birth. This ability to start supplementing their diet early on plays a huge role in their survival, especially considering the harsh environments they live in.


Size Matters: The Big Baby Camels

What's more, camel calves are pretty big. A newborn dromedary calf can weigh up to 80 pounds! That's about the same weight as an average 11-year-old human kid! A bactrian calf is even larger, tipping the scales at around 130 pounds at birth. It's a hefty beginning to life, but in the tough world of the desert, it helps to start big.


Powerful Memory

Camels are renowned for their strong memory, and it begins from the time they are babies. They start recognizing their mother's calls from a young age and can remember paths they've travelled and places they've been to, all of which become crucial survival skills in the sprawling desert landscape.



Water Saving

After the babies get a little older they can drink up to 40 gallons of water at a time and then go for weeks without another drink! This impressive feat is achieved by several adaptations. Their blood cells are oval-shaped, which allows them to continue flowing even when the camel is dehydrated. Moreover, camels don't sweat as much.


Adaptation to Desert

Let's talk about resilience. Imagine being born in one of the harshest environments on earth - the scorching desert. It's a world of extremes: blistering heat by day and freezing cold by night. But baby camels are built for this. Their woolly coat, while appearing to be a disadvantage in the searing heat, is actually a dual-purpose lifesaver. It insulates against the chill of the desert night while also reflecting sunlight and preventing overheating during the day. These calves are real-life desert warriors from day one!


Traveling with the Herd
 
The heat is almost unbearable, the sand hot beneath your feet, and there's a group of creatures off in the distance. That's right, it's a camel herd! Often, these herds consist of about 20 members, though they can range from just a few to several hundred. They usually include one dominant male, several females, and their young.

One striking feature about camel herds is their sense of unity. Camels are very protective of their young, and if a calf strays too far, the entire herd will stop and wait for it to return. It's almost as if they live by an unspoken code: leave no calf behind.



Fast Development

Did you also know that camel calves are born with their eyes open and can walk within half an hour of being born? It's truly a sight to behold. Imagine the newborn, tottering on those long, gangly legs, exploring the vast expanse of its new world. How fast do you think a baby camel can run? A human baby can barely crawl, but just a few hours after birth, a camel calf can run! Not a full gallop, mind you, but certainly faster than you'd expect for such a young creature. 


What Babies Eat

For the first several months of their lives, camel calves stick to a liquid diet - their mother's milk. However, even in this early stage, camels are being prepared for the harsh realities of desert life. Around 2-3 months of age, camel calves will start showing interest in solid food. This is where it gets a bit... well, prickly.

You see, camels are herbivores with an appetite for some of the desert's toughest vegetation. They can munch on thorny, dry, and salty plants that many other animals would avoid. Their split, tough upper lip helps them pick parts of plants that are less prickly. And those large, strong teeth? They're perfect for grinding down hard, fibrous plants. 



They Should Gain Weight Quickly

For the first few months, the calves stay close to their mothers, feeding on nutrient-rich camel milk which allows them to gain weight quickly. It's the desert's version of a growth spurt! This period is crucial for their survival as the extra weight works as an insurance policy during times of food scarcity.


Babies Have Long Legs

Let's talk about their legs. Ever noticed how adult camels have long, spindly legs? Well, camel calves are born with those same lengthy legs. In fact, a newborn calf's legs are so long that it's almost as tall as an adult human! Imagine that, a baby the size of a grown person. 


Natural Camouflage

Camel calves have a unique way of staying safe from predators. They are born with a special coat that helps them blend in with the desert. The colour of their fur perfectly mimics the sandy and rocky landscape, providing a natural camouflage. Over time, as they grow and mature, their fur darkens, taking on the iconic camel hue we're familiar with.



Old Friends

Did you know that the domestication of camels dates back to almost 3000 to 2000 BCE? Picture this: Ancient civilizations, just beginning to grasp the concept of agriculture, looking at these giant, somewhat goofy-looking creatures, and thinking, "Yeah, we can work with this."

Over time, these dromedaries became integrated into the fabric of human society, particularly in the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Asia. The Silk Road, that legendary trade route, wouldn't have been possible without these 'ships of the desert'. Can you imagine the tales those ancient traders would have to tell, their loyal camels plodding alongside them, braving sandstorms and scorching sun?

But it's not just the practical aspects of the camel that captured human interest. They became a central figure in the cultures of the societies they were a part of, featuring in their art, mythology, and literature. Have you heard the story of the wise man who said, "Trust in Allah, but tie your camel"? Stories like this underline the importance of camels in the social and cultural dynamics of these societies.



Sources:

Wilson, R.T. (1984). The Camel. Longman Scientific & Technical.
Gauthier-Pilters, H., & Dagg, A.I. (1981). The Camel: Its Evolution, Ecology, Behavior, and Relationship to Man. University of Chicago Press.
"Camel." (2021). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/animal/camel
"Camel (Dromedary)." (2021). San Diego Zoo Global Animals and Plants. Retrieved from https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/camel


No comments:

Post a Comment