Have you looked into a camel’s mouth?

Camels have really thick big lips. Their top lip is split in two so that they can graze and eat their food more effectively. They can eat the thorniest plants without injuring their tough lips.

The camel has a large mouth and 34 strong, sharp teeth. It can use the teeth as weapons. A working camel cannot wear a bit and bridle, as a horse does, because its mouth must be free to chew cud (regurgitated food). Instead, a rope for leading the animal is attached to a nose peg, that’s inserted into a hole near the camel’s nose, like a nose piercing.

What do camels eat?

Camels are browsers, with a split upper lip well suited to this purpose and a long neck to reach up into trees. They are normally selective feeders and eat the freshest vegetation available.

Camels are mobile feeders and frequent remote salt lakes where plants high in electrolyte and moisture are present. (Calandrina sp, Portucla sp.). Domestic or yard fed camels need a diet high in bulk. They are quite adaptable to the gradual introduction of supplementary and pelletized food to their diets. In the wild, or feral state they search for plants high in salts. In a yarded situation like at Pyndan Camel Tracks, the camels are fed a salt lick.

In a study carried out by Doerges and Heuckes, on Newhaven station, they observed the wild camels ate 81.5% of the available plant species. Grasses are eaten primarily after rain, and before herbs and forbs are available. At times when the moisture content is high camels can exist for several months without drinking water. They do however perish in drought, where there is no surface water and the moisture content of plants is low.

What is in a camel’s hump?

Most kinds of animals store fat in their bodies, but only camels keep most of their fat in a hump. If food is hard to find, the fat in the hump provides energy for the animal. If a camel is starving, its hump shrinks. The hump may even slip off the animal’s back and hang down on its side. After the camel has had a few weeks’ rest and food, its hump becomes firm and plump again. The hump is not a storage place for water, as many people believe.

The hump of a camel is mostly a lump of fat. Bands of strong tissue hold pads of fat together, forming the hump above the backbone. The hump of a healthy, well-fed camel may weigh 35 kilograms or more.

Some of the above information was condensed from a report, STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPMENT, prepared by the Camel Industry Steering Committee for the Northern Territory Government. 1993.