Camels and llamas, beasts of burden

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Friday, 3 August 2007.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • The normal life span of a camel is 40 years.
  • A camel is mature after five years of age.
  • Camels were used as transportation by desert people of long ago and are called "Ships of The Desert".
  • Camels are the only animals with humps
  • Despite its hump, a camel has a straight spine.
  • The humps on a camel's back are stores of fat and flesh that can weigh as much as 35 kilos in a healthy camel. These humps help camels survive for weeks without food and water.
  • When a camel's energy reserves become low from lack of food, the hump shrinks and becomes soft and will flop over to one side.
  • Camels have three sets of eyelids to protect them from blowing sand.
  • A camel can close its nostrils.
  • Camels walk at a speed of about 5 kph.
  • Camels can run just as fast as horses, if not faster.
  • Camels can go without drinking water for three to four days at a time.
  • The camel is able to carry loads as heavy as 400 kilos, although normally a camel will only carry a third of that.
  • Camels don't usually do heavy work beyond 25 years of age.
  • At night, a camel's body temperature is 40°C. During the heat of the day, it's 34°C.
  • Camels can drink 115 litres of water at a time.
  • A camel can produce up to 600 litres of milk a year.
  • Camel's milk is about 5.5% milk fat, 7.5% milk solids and 87% water.
  • Camel's milk does not curdle.
  • A distressed camel may spit a noxious stream of stomach contents, but generally camels are hard working, intelligent animals.
  • Abdul Kassem Ismael, Grand Vizier of Persia in the 10th century, carried his library with him wherever he went. The 117,000 volumes were carried by 400 camels that were trained to walk in alphabetical order.
  • In some countries camels are a source of entertainment, with camel races and camel fighting attracting audiences of all ages in several countries around the world.
  • Camel was considered an unclean animal in the Bible, but was highly regarded in Ancient Rome, where grilled camel's feet was a gourmet dish.
  • There are fewer than 1,000 Bactrian camels left in the wild. They have survived in a land with no water in an area used for nuclear testing. Their numbers, however, are falling dramatically as humans encroach farther and farther into China's Gobi Desert.
  • Llamas were originally domesticated in 1531.
  • Llamas come in various colours and shades of whites, browns, blacks and reds. Their designs are sometimes solid, but they are more often spotted and patterned in combination of these colours.
  • The average lifespan of a llama is about 20 years.
  • Llamas are usually used to carry packs. One llama can carry a pack of up to 60 kilos at 30 km/day over rough mountain terrain.
  • Llamas can chew their cud like cattle and sheep, and because of efficient digestive systems, their protein requirements are low and they can be inexpensively fed on a variety of pasturage.
  • Llamas have a soft pad on the bottom of their foot, not a hoof, so they are gentle on the ground.
  • Llamas have three stomachs.
  • The llama's blood is different from most mammals. It has more red corpuscles, which makes it more efficient at using oxygen. This allows it to live in higher altitudes.
  • Llamas have a communal dung pile with very little odour, unlike other animals that go all over the pasture and have a strong smell.
  • Llamas communicate most often by making a humming sound. When in danger, they let out a high-pitched warning whine; they also communicate with body posturing, facial expressions and ear and tail positions.
  • Llamas have a reputation for bad tempers. If they are overloaded, they tend to spit, bite and refuse to move.
  • Spitting is the llamas' way of saying, "Scat!". Normally used between llamas to divert annoying suitors, ward off a perceived threat or, most commonly, to establish pecking order at mealtime, an occasional llama that has been forced to tolerate excessive human handling may have developed an intolerance for or fear of humans and will spit if they feel threatened by them.
  • Llamas cannot be ridden.

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