Bactrian Camel Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

In this lesson, you'll learn interesting information about Bactrian camels. What's really inside their humps? Do Bactrian camels have one hump or two? Find the answers to these questions and more as you read this lesson.

One Hump or Two?

Have you ever noticed that some camels have one hump and others have two? The dromedary camel has only one hump, but its relative, the Bactrian camel has two humps! Bactrian camels are named after Bactria, an area in ancient Asia that is now part of many different countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In captivity, Bactrians can live up to 50 years. They're very tall; often more than seven feet high from the ground to the top of their humps. They can also weigh up to 1,800 pounds!

Bactrian Camels
camels

Both Bactrian and dromedary camels live in desert areas, although the deserts are different. Dromedary camels live in sandy desert areas in Africa, so they are well-suited for that type of climate. Bactrian camels also live in the desert, but the deserts of Asia where Bactrians live is rocky. Let's see how the Bactrian camel has become well-suited to live in this habitat.

Bactrian Adaptations

When animals live in an area over thousands of years, their bodies often change or adapt. These adaptations help the animals survive. Bactrian camels have several adaptations that help them live in rocky desert areas.

Humps

The most obvious adaption are the Bactrians' humps. Many people think that camels store water in their humps, but this isn't true. Because these camels have to be able to go long distances without much food and water, they store fat in their humps. The fat can be turned into water and energy if there isn't much food or water available. As the camel uses the fat, the humps empty out and become floppy until they are filled back up.

Physical Adaptations

Bactrian camels have to be able to survive in a wide range of temperatures. In the parts of Asia where they live, the temperatures can be both very hot and very cold. During winter, when it's cold, Bactrians grow a very thick, shaggy coat of brown hair, which they shed when it gets warm in the summer.

Bactrian Camel
face

To help keep blowing sand out of their noses, Bactrians can close their nostrils. They protect their eyes with two rows of eyelashes and very bushy eyebrows to help keep the sand out. They also have hair inside their ears! To help them walk more easily in snow and in sandy and rocky areas, their feet are very big and flat.

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