Camel Pictures and Facts


Image Source: Shawn Allen / License under Creative Commons 2.0

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Most of the Arabian Peninsula is desert; and, of this, one-third is "sand desert." Starting in the north of the peninsula, we find the Great Nafud desert, which covers more than 40,000 sq mi. (103,600 sq km), forming an oval depression.
[15] The Dahna Desert, a narrow corridor of gravel plains and sand dunes, stretches 398 mi. (640 km) south from the Nafud to the Rub' al Khali. [16] The gravel plain of the Dahna is formed when the sand is blown away, leaving only the large gravel behind. To the south the Rub' al Khali (empty quarter) is one of the world's largest sand deserts, encompassing the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. It covers 250,000 sq. mi. (650,000 sq. km), more than the combined land mass of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Summer temperatures climb to nearly 131°F (55°C) at noon. With some dunes taller than the Eiffel Tower - over 1000 ft. (305 m)- this desert is one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth. [17] The al-Murrah tribe with some 15,000 members still wander along the fringes of the Rub' al-Khali. In the desert, the distance between watering holes means they can only raise herds of camels. During the rainy season (December-January), the al-Murrah migrate into the desert areas. But, the start of the dry season (April) will force them back towards cultivated lands. [18]

Camel and Calf

A camel and her calf.

Image Source: HISHAM BINSUWAIF / License under Creative Commons 2.0

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A mature camel (6-7 years old) weighs between 551 lbs. (250 kg) to 1500 lbs. (680 kg), and stands from 6 ft. (1.8 m) to 6 1/2 ft. (2 m) tall at the shoulders. A camel's thick wool can make it appear larger, especially during the winter.
[19] Their head and body length is 10 ft. (3 m), not including a rope like tail which is over 20 in. (50 cm) long. [20] [21] Camels have two toes on each foot, each with a hoof on the front that looks like a toenail. They walk on their toes much like a woman wearing a pair of high heels. But, instead of a heel, a camel has a ball of fat that helps form the soft pad on the bottom of its foot. This pad supports the animal on the sand like a pair of snowshoes, and makes the camel almost completely silent when it walks and runs.

Camel's Foot

A camel's foot.

Image Source: Kazuhisa OTSUBO / License under Creative Commons 2.0

They also have callous like pads on their chest, the back of their front leg joints, and the front of their back leg joints. These pads cushion the animal when it kneels down and keeps it comfortable while it is resting on the ground, even on hot sand. The pads are made of tough leathery skin that looks as though the hair has been rubbed off. These pads are natural, however, and not a sign of wear. They start developing after the camel is born and become tough at about five months old. To get up, a camel must first straighten its hind legs and then jerked up its front legs. This allows the camel to lie down and get up, even when heavily loaded.

sitting camel

Image Source for two camels: Neil Carey
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