Camels were domesticated more than 3,000 years ago1. There are two species of camel in existence: the dromedary and the Bactrian camel.

Roughly 90% of the world’s camels are dromedaries and all of these are domesticated with none existing in the wild. Some Bactrian camels are still wild, although there is only a population of about 1,000 wild camels left, with most of these living in China and a smaller number living in Mongolia.

Camels, whether domesticated or wild, are herbivores and they live on a diet of grass, grain, wheat, and oats.


About Camels

mongolian camel in the dessert
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Camels are built to live in some of the harshest environmental conditions known to man. They live primarily in arid deserts and they have several weapons in their arsenal to help combat the conditions they live in.

They store large amounts of fat in their humps, which they can call on when they do not have access to food and water. They even have an upper lip that is split in the middle so that they can feed on short grass, and the lips themselves are leathery to enable the camels to eat cacti and other tough food.

Camel Diet

There are two species of camel and although their diets are very similar, the specific plants they eat depend on the location of the type of camel.

  • Dromedary – Dromedary camels have a single hump and all dromedary camels are domesticated. They live in desert regions of Africa and Asia and primarily eat bushes and dry grass.
  • Bactrian – There are both domestic and wild Bactrian camels, which have two humps. These live in Mongolia and China and primarily eat dry grasses and other desert shrubs.

In all cases, camels will eat any desert plant they can find, including young shoots and short grasses. They have three or four stomachs and after food has been broken down in the first two stomachs, it is regurgitated before being eaten again. At this stage, the food enters the final stomach, where it is digested.

Typically, pet or domesticated camels will graze on plants but they can also be given hay to ensure that they receive the food they need.

Camels in Arabia
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How Long Can Camels Go Without Food?

Camels can go months without food, relying on the fat that is stored in their humps. Although most people think of the humps as being a store of water, this isn’t true.

Camels can store up to 80 pounds of rich fat in a single hump, and their body will metabolize the fat and turn it into energy during periods when the animal does not get any food. The size of a camel’s hump changes according to how much or how little food they have eaten.

How Long Can Camels Go Without Water?

As well as being able to go for months without food, camels can also survive a week or longer without access to water. They get water directly from water sources, but they also take water from the plants that they eat. As such, camels can go several months without actually drinking from a water source, taking all the moisture they need from the plants they eat.

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How Long Can A Camel Live?

Despite living in some of the harshest environments on earth, camels have a long lifespan and you can expect one to live anywhere between 40–50 years. They have no known predators and they do not need to eat as often as other animals because of their incredible humps.

Do Camels Eat Meat?

Although they are considered herbivores, camels can digest meat and they will eat the remains of dead animals, called carrion, if they find any. This is most common when vegetation is scarce and is another way that this desert-dwelling animal can survive in arid conditions where life is scarce.

Wild Bactrian Camel
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Can Camels Eat Salt?

Sodium is an important part of a camel’s diet and one of the main sources of this, especially for camels in captivity, is salt. Farmers usually provide access to a salt lick, and you can also buy salt treats, which are smaller pieces of salt that are easier for the camel to get hold of and chew.

How Much Food Does A Camel Eat Per Day?

The amount a camel eats in a day varies greatly, especially according to access to food. They can go several months without food, as long as they have a good store of hump fat. However, you can expect a camel to eat up to 9 pounds of food a day, and they may consume more if their natural fat store is depleted.

divider-multipet Conclusion

Camels are built to survive extreme conditions. They live in deserts in Africa and Asia, and as well as having humps, which are large fat stores that can be called on when the camel has no access to food and water, they have lips that enable them to eat short grass and allow them to chew thorny prickles.

Camels are primarily herbivores, eating grass and bushes, but they will eat scavenged meat if they do not have access to their preferred food source. The vast majority of camels are domesticated, and domestic animals usually need to be given salt to help ensure that they have the nutrients they require in their diet.

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