Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dromedary and Bactrian


By Julie Rahm

There are two species of camels, the Dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and the Bactrian (Camelus bactrianus). Dromedary camels have one hump and were domesticated about 4,000 years ago. There are no Dromedaries left in the wild. However, there is a large feral population (600,000) of Dromedaries living in the Australian outback. On the other hand, Bactrian camels have two humps. Although most of their numbers are domesticated, they still have a small wild population.

One hump or two, camels are one of the most adapted animals in the world. They can avoid perspiring by raising their body temperatures about ten degrees and thus preserve their fluid. Their eyes are large and protected from wind and sand by double layers of long lashes. Their eyebrows provide a boney "visor" that shields the eye from the sun. Camels also have a third eyelid that moves sideways and acts like a windshield wiper, brushing the eye clean of sand. Even when this eyelid is closed, camels can still see, allowing them to travel in blinding sandstorms. The camel's ears and nose are lined with hair for protection from dust and sand. The camel's nose is also designed to trap moisture from its exhalations, thereby conserving body fluids. A camel's long legs keep the bulk of its body high above the reflective heat of the desert sand.

A camel is a cud-chewer and vegetarian, preferring dates, grass and grain. But, when food is scarce, it becomes an omnivore, making a meal out of anything it can find, including thorns, bones, meat and even its owners’ tent. Camels need salt in their diet and can drink brackish water that would make other animals ill. The camel's mouth is tough-skinned and has a split lip, allowing it to strip even the thorniest trees of vegetation. Camels possess sharp teeth, which are used to feed and defend themselves. In the summer, camels can go five to seven days without food or water. In the winter, a camel can extract enough moisture from its food to go 50 days without water. A thirsty camel can drink up to 30 gallons of water in less than 15 minutes. A camel’s kidney concentrates its urine thus preserving water. Camel urine can be as thick as honey. (Now you know!) And, a camel's poop is so dry it can be used immediately to start a fire. (Too much info?)

Camels have a reputation for spitting. But this is incorrect. (Just ask my former Marine husband, John who has first-hand experience with Bedouin camels.) Actually, camels “hock” stuff up from their stomachs and vomit on you. (Nice!) John says camels are the nastiest animal on the planet. He contends considerable discipline restrains Marines from occasionally shooting a surly camel. And finally, let’s get to this week’s life message.

Persevere until you get over the hump. Often, time will provide perspective and relief. And, to improve the situation contact me at my website, http://www.Facebook.com/ReliefWithJulie. More on humps next week!

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