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The Difference Between One-Hump and Two-Hump Camels

This is a photograph of a Dromedary camel native to the deserts of Africa and the Middle East, but also commonly found in North America and Australia.

For years scientists believed that camels - like unicorns, mermaids, and the American Indian - were just a mythical creature used to market cigarettes. That was until scientists discovered the existence of real-life camels in the Egyptian desert in 1967.

But seriously speaking, there are three types of camels, which are one-hump camels, two-hump camels, and camel cigarettes. I am only going to address the first two types.

Dromedary is the name for one-hump camels. This type of camel is common to Africa and the Middle East. It was exported all over the world and is now relatively common in Australia and North America, where is has been used sporadically over the years as a pack animal. Dromedary camels are much more common than two hump camels and much less common than camel cigarettes.

Bactrian Camels are much less common than dromedary (one-hump). Bactrian camels are native to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Aside from the obvious difference of the number of humps, Bactrian Camels differ in a few other key ways. For example, the Bactrian camel grows a thick coat of hair each winter. That coat of hair falls off every spring. This is to deal with the extreme variation of temperature in the Gobi desert where summer highs often top 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter months can see significant amounts of snow. In general, Bactrian camels are much more mild-mannered than their hot-tempered dromedary kin. (The Dromedary camel has a uniform length of hair year round.) Estimates for the number of Bactrian Camels in North America range from about 400-800 head.

It is possible to cross breed the two types of camels. Some people would expect that by breeding a one-hump camel with a two-hump camel that the result might be a three hump camel. The actual math equation is closer to this: one-hump camel + two-hump camel=a camel with one really large hump.

Due to lower numbers, and the higher regard in the eyes of breeders, Bactrian camels command much higher prices than Dromedary camels.

by Cameron Hatch
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