Camels are one of the oldest breeds that come from prehistoric times. Camels are mammals (this means that camels have babies, they do not lay eggs.) Camels are also called Afro-Asiatic Camelids, and there are just two kinds of camels in the world. People have domesticated (made them pets) camels for about 5,000 years. These “pet” camels are used to carry things, and let the owners ride them. Their hair is thick and good to turn into blankets, and clothing. They are used for riding and to carry things and they are also used for food.

Camels are able to live in very hot and dry places; these places are called deserts. Camels have a thick coat of hair that protects them from the sun; they have very wide, soft feet that allow them to walk a long time in the hot sand. Their large feet spread their weight on the sand when they are walking.

Camels can eat and drink large amounts of food and water. Their bodies turn the food into fat that is stored in the hump on their back; this hump stands strong and straight when it is full but after days of not eating or drinking the camel’s body absorbs the fat and the hump goes soft and floppy.

Camels have bushy eyebrows that don't let the sand go in their eyes in a sandstorm, and two sets of eyelashes for the same reason. They have muscles in their nostrils that close into wee slits to help stop sand blowing up the nostrils in sandstorms. The camels’ thick, rubbery lips allow them to eat dry, prickly plants and they have a large, hairy tail that they put to good use swatting mosquitos and flies. They have long thinnish necks that help them reach high leaves in trees and they have rubbery patches on their tummies and knees to protect their skin when they kneel in the hot sand.

Yes! Camels are made to live through hot windy weather and sandstorms in the deserts.

Camels live in groups, with one male, several females, and their young calves.

Camels will eat anything they can reach, if they have no grains, wheat and leaves nearby. They strangely do not chew properly when they do get food; they swallow the half-chewed food and this then sits in the first part of their stomachs. Then after a while this food gets brought back into their mouth and they chew away on that for a while before swallowing it. Then the camel swallows this (it is called the cud) and it goes to the other parts of the stomach to be completely digested.

When a domesticated camel calf becomes a year old, the owner may teach it to stand and kneel on command. They also learn to carry small, light packs around. As they grow older, the size of the pack also increases.

Riding Camels

This is not as easy as you may think. There are some things you would really need to learn to ride a camel for days through the desert sands and sand dunes.

Wear long pants and long socks to protect your skin. Your socks should come up as high as you can.

You will need to wear a sunhat and sunglasses and a long scarf or bandanna to protect your face in case of a dust storm. Modern desert riders wear dust goggles if there are dust/sandstorms blowing

Getting on the camel is the hardest part of riding. Some people "leapfrog" into the saddle from behind the camel. As a beginner, you won’t be doing this, especially if you are riding a Bactrian camel which has two humps!

The camel should be sitting right down on the ground when you want to mount it. You will go up to the side of the camel slowly but confidently. Don't look the camel in the eyes. Throw your leg over the middle of a camel with two humps and quickly mount it.

You want to be sitting squarely in the saddle on the camel’s back, to keep your balance as the camel stands up – after that you can move your legs to get more comfortable. There will be a handle on the front of the saddle to help you hold on as the camel stands up.

Lean backward as the camel starts to stand up. Camels stand up with their back legs first, and if you are not holding tightly, you could be thrown face first into the camel’s neck. Slowly lean forward as it gets onto its front legs.

Now it is time to cross your legs. Yes, you sit cross-legged on a camel, you don’t ride it as you would a horse!

You can wrap one or both legs around the saddle post. This will also help you keep your balance.

Let yourself sway with the camel. A camel's walk is odd, irregular, and herky-jerky. People who have ridden camels say they can feel quite sea-sick, as the camel sways around like a boat on a choppy sea.

Camels don't listen to anyone except their owners so you will not be expected to show the camel what to do with your heels or with reins as you would when riding a horse.

You can only get off the camel when it is back sitting really flat on the ground again.