Camel vs. Dromedary

What's the Difference?

Camels and dromedaries are both members of the camel family, but they have some distinct differences. One major difference is their physical appearance. Camels have two humps on their backs, while dromedaries have only one. This difference in hump count also affects their habitat preferences. Camels are typically found in the deserts of Asia and Africa, where they can store fat in their humps to survive long periods without food or water. Dromedaries, on the other hand, are specifically adapted to the arid deserts of the Middle East and North Africa, where their single hump helps them conserve water. Despite these differences, both camels and dromedaries are well-known for their ability to withstand extreme temperatures and travel long distances in harsh environments.


Photo by Yana Yuzvenko on Unsplash
SpeciesCamelus bactrianusCamelus dromedarius
Number of HumpsTwoOne
Geographical DistributionCentral AsiaMiddle East and North Africa
UseTransportation, Milk, MeatTransportation, Milk, Meat
Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

Further Detail


Camels and dromedaries are fascinating creatures that belong to the same family, Camelidae. While they share many similarities, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the attributes of both camels and dromedaries, highlighting their physical features, habitats, behavior, and cultural significance.

Physical Features

Both camels and dromedaries are large, sturdy mammals with long legs and a humped back. However, the most noticeable difference between the two lies in the number of humps. Camels have either one or two humps, depending on the species, while dromedaries have a single hump. The humps are not filled with water, as commonly believed, but rather with fat reserves that help them survive in arid environments.

Another physical distinction is their size. Camels are generally taller and heavier than dromedaries. On average, camels can reach a height of 6 to 7 feet at the shoulder and weigh between 1,300 to 2,200 pounds. Dromedaries, on the other hand, are slightly smaller, standing at around 5 to 6 feet tall and weighing between 880 to 1,320 pounds.

Both camels and dromedaries have adapted to their desert habitats with features such as broad, tough feet that help them traverse sandy terrain without sinking. They also possess long, curved necks and a split upper lip that aids in foraging for vegetation in arid regions.

Habitat and Distribution

Camels and dromedaries are primarily found in arid regions, including deserts, steppes, and savannas. Camels are native to the Middle East and Central Asia, with the two main species being the dromedary (Camelus dromedarius) and the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus). Dromedaries are most commonly found in the Arabian Peninsula, while Bactrian camels inhabit the cold deserts of Central Asia.

On the other hand, dromedaries have a wider distribution and can be found in various countries across Africa, including Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia. They have also been introduced to other parts of the world, such as Australia and the United States, where they are often used for transportation and as tourist attractions.

Behavior and Adaptations

Both camels and dromedaries have evolved remarkable adaptations to survive in harsh desert environments. They are well-known for their ability to withstand extreme temperatures, ranging from scorching heat during the day to freezing cold at night. Their thick fur helps protect them from the sun's rays and insulates them in colder climates.

Camels and dromedaries are also known for their incredible water conservation abilities. They can go for long periods without drinking water, as their bodies are capable of reabsorbing moisture from their own waste. Additionally, their nostrils can close to prevent sand from entering, and their bushy eyebrows and long eyelashes shield their eyes from blowing sand and dust.

When it comes to behavior, both camels and dromedaries are social animals that live in herds. They have a hierarchical structure led by a dominant male, and females typically give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of around 13 months. These animals communicate through various vocalizations, body postures, and even spitting as a defense mechanism.

Cultural Significance

Camels and dromedaries have played a significant role in the cultures and economies of the regions they inhabit. In the Middle East, camels have been used as pack animals and modes of transportation for centuries. They have been crucial for trade routes, allowing people to traverse vast deserts and transport goods across long distances.

In addition to their practical uses, camels and dromedaries hold cultural and religious significance. They are often depicted in traditional art, literature, and folklore, symbolizing endurance, resilience, and the ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. In some cultures, camels are even considered sacred animals.

Furthermore, camel racing is a popular sport in many countries, particularly in the Arabian Peninsula. These races attract large crowds and showcase the agility and speed of these magnificent creatures. Dromedaries, with their remarkable speed and endurance, are the preferred choice for racing events.


Camels and dromedaries are remarkable animals that have adapted to survive in some of the harshest environments on Earth. While they share physical similarities, such as their humped backs and ability to conserve water, they also have distinct differences, including the number of humps and their distribution. These animals have not only been essential for transportation and trade but have also held cultural and religious significance in various societies. Whether it is their physical attributes, behavior, or cultural importance, camels and dromedaries continue to captivate our imagination and remind us of the incredible diversity of life on our planet.

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