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Why Do Camels Have Humps?

Updated: Mar 27

Well, hello there, dear reader! I see you're curious about why camels have humps. Well, let me tell you, it's a fascinating story that involves a bit of biology, physics, and geography. So sit back, relax, and let me take you on a journey through the Arabian deserts.


First things first, let's talk about the two types of camels: the dromedary camel (also known as the Arabian camel) and the Bactrian camel. The dromedary camel has one hump, while the Bactrian camel has two humps. And while they may look different, their humps serve the same purpose.

Camel looking at the Egyptian Pyramids.

Now, the humps on camels are not just for decoration or to make them look more majestic (although, let's be real, they do look pretty cool). No, their humps actually store fat, not water like some people might think. You see, camels live in some of the driest places on Earth, where water and food can be scarce. So they have adapted over time to be able to survive long periods without either.


Here's how it works: the fat in the camel's humps is used as a source of energy when food and water are not available. When a camel eats and drinks, the fat in its humps is used to fuel its body. And when there is no food or water, the fat is broken down into energy and water, which helps keep the camel hydrated.

Camel with a saddle looking at the camera.

But how do the humps actually work? Well, it's all about physics. You see, fat is a great insulator, which means it's really good at trapping heat. And when the sun beats down on the desert, it can get pretty hot. But thanks to the fat in their humps, camels are able to regulate their body temperature and stay cool.


In fact, the humps on camels can weigh up to 80 pounds each and can provide enough energy to sustain a camel for up to three weeks without food or water. That's pretty impressive, if you ask me.


But here's the thing: not all camels are created equal. While dromedary camels have adapted to store fat in their humps, Bactrian camels have adapted to store fat in their humps and other parts of their body. This allows them to survive in even colder temperatures than their dromedary cousins.

Camels crossing railroad tracks.

And while we're on the topic of camels, did you know that they have a third eyelid? It's called a nictitating membrane, and it helps protect their eyes from sand and other debris in the desert. Pretty neat, huh?


In conclusion, camels have humps to store fat, which they use as a source of energy and water when food and water are scarce. The fat in their humps also helps regulate their body temperature and keep them cool in the scorching desert sun.

A group of people and camels walking up a sandy dune.

This is not all, there are so many cool adaptations that camels have developed over time to help them survive in their harsh desert environments! Here are just a few more fun ones:


Camels can go a really long time without drinking water. This is because they have the ability to conserve water in their bodies by producing dry feces and minimizing their urine output. They can also tolerate high levels of dehydration without becoming too thirsty.

Close up of a camel standing in the snow.

Camels have thick, calloused skin on their knees and chest that allows them to kneel and lie down on hot sand without getting burned. Additionally, they have a tough, leathery palate that protects their mouth from thorny plants and other sharp objects they may encounter while grazing.


The nostrils of camels can be closed to prevent sand and dust from getting inside their nose. They also have bushy eyebrows and long eyelashes that help protect their eyes from blowing sand and dust.

Camel Walking in the dessert.

Camels have a unique gait that allows them to move efficiently across the desert sands. Their two legs on one side of their body move together in a single, rolling motion, while their other two legs move together on the other side of their body.


In addition to their humps, camels also have large, tough feet with leathery pads that allow them to walk on hot sand without getting burned. Their feet are also able to spread out to provide more surface area, which helps them to distribute their weight more evenly and walk more easily on soft sand.

Closeup of a camel's face.

All of these adaptations work together to make camels some of the most resilient and adaptable animals in the world. They truly are amazing creatures! So the next time you see a camel, take a moment to appreciate their impressive humps and all the amazing adaptations that help them survive in some of the harshest environments on Earth.

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