How to camels survive in the desert?
You can’t miss Autumn time on safari, everywhere you turn the colours of autumn are starting to show, and of course the temperature is dropping. It’s officially big coat season! But while we layer up, turn the heating up and pull our woolly hats down all to keep warm, our Bactrian camels have a clever way of keeping toasty.
You might be wondering why a desert animal like a camel would need a way to keep warm! Bactrian camels are from the Mongolian desert. If you’re looking for somewhere on planet Earth offering the most extreme climate and challenging weather conditions, Mongolia is it. In the summer temperatures can be a scorching +50⁰C in the daytime, but when winter comes the temperature can reach as low as -40⁰C at night.
Camels are perfectly adapt to living in this extremely changeable environment. Their most noticeable way of living in these challenging conditions is the two humps on their back. In these humps camels store fat. Yes fat, not water! When food is scarce across the desert camels use the fat in their humps to provide vital nutrients.
Animals that live in colder climates, such as whales and bears, store fat all over their bodies. This acts as a layer of insulation to protect them against the low temperatures. But camels need to withstand blistering heat AND freezing cold so they store their fat away from their body to keep them cool in the summer, and rely on a super thick coat for those -40⁰C desert winters.
If you visit the safari in the summer and the winter you’ll see the incredible change in our camels. The thick, warm coat the camels wear throughout the winter gets shed in the springtime. You’ll notice it coming off in thick clumps, giving the camels terrible bedhead! Then in summer they’re virtually bald and this very odd looking animal becomes even stranger, with spindly legs and long faces!
If you’re visiting the safari this autumn the camels have already started growing back their fuzzy winter coats. We think their autumn hairdo is definitely their best look! Don’t you agree?