Bactrian Camel

Camelus bactrianus
The Bactrian camel has served as a pack animal in inner Asia since ancient times. Of the two species of camel, it is by far the rarer. The Bactrian camel has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped dromedary camel. The humps store fat which can be converted to water and energy when sustenance is not available. These humps give camels their legendary ability to endure long periods of travel without water, even in harsh desert conditions. As their fat is depleted, the humps become floppy and flabby.

Gobi desert of east Asia. Temperatures can become searingly hot and reach over 120°F in summer. In the winter temperature can drop to –20°F. Bactrian camels have developed special adaptations to allow them to survive in such a brutal environment. One is a thick, shaggy coat that protects them in winter and falls away as seasons change and temperatures rise.

Like Arabian camels, Bactrians rarely sweat, helping them conserve fluids for long periods of time. In winter, plants may yield enough moisture to sustain a camel without water for several weeks. When camels drink, they soak up water like a sponge. A very thirsty animal can drink 30 gallons of water in only 13 minutes.

Like Arabian camels, Bactrians’ nostrils close to keep sand at bay, and their bushy eyebrows and two rows of long eyelashes protect their eyes. Big, flat footpads help them navigate the rough rocky terrain and shifting desert sands without sinking under their own massive bulk or the weight of heavy packs.


They are primarily herbivores. They are able to eat plants that are dry, prickly, salty and/or bitter, and can ingest virtually any kind of vegetation. These camels may feed on carcasses, gnawing on bones, skin, or various different kinds of flesh.


Size: 6-7 1/2 feet height
Weight: 660-2200 lbs
Lifespan: Up to 50 years,
often 20 to 40 years in captivity