Bactrian Camel

Bactrian Camel

Camelus bactrianus

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Quick Facts
Height: 7.5' at hump
Length: 10'
Weight: 1,000 to 1,600 lbs
Wild diet: Grass, leaves, shrubs, thorns, and saltbush
Zoo Diet: Hay, carrots, and herbivore grain
Distribution: Western China, Gobi Desert, and Mongolia
Habitat: Desert, grassland, valleys, and canyons in mountainous areas

Camels have acute eyesight and excellent hearing. Because of their ability to see great distances, they are often able to flee from evident predators.  Camels can see danger 2 to 3 miles away.   They are able to endure temperatures between -40 degrees and over 100 degrees.  Bactrian camels feed on shrubs. Their mouth is tough and enables them to eat thorny plants. They are able to go without food for long periods of time. During continuous drought and food shortages, fat stored in the humps is converted to usable energy. They are also able to go without water for long periods of time by producing dry feces and little urine; they also allow their body temperatures to fluctuate and this reduces their need to sweat. They can drink up to 32 gallons of water at a time. It is a common misconception that water is stored in the hump. They are ruminants and have a four-chambered stomach.


Bactrian camels are large, two-humped camels. They have a large head, a long curved neck, and shaggy, light to dark brown hair on the chin, shoulders, legs, and humps. They grow a dense winter coat and shed it in large raggedy patches during the spring and summer months. Bactrian camels have long legs and large padded feet. Their broad feet are equally adapted to walking on snow and sand. Camels have two rows of eyelashes, which protect their eyes during dust and snow storms. The camels’ nostrils can open and close to protect them during hot, dusty desert treks or in cold and freezing weather.

Status in the Wild

Bactrian camels are native to Mongolia and China. Major threats to the wild Bactrian camel include subsistence hunting, increased predation by wolves and hybridization, and highly toxic illegal mining.

Conservation Programs
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