Bactrian & Dromedary Camels
Camelus bactrianus, C. dromedarius, C. ferus

March 2009
(minor update April 2013)

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Wild Bactrian Camel, Camelus ferus
Image credit: Jeff Kubina via
Wikimedia Commons
Some rights reserved

(Bulliet, 1990; Cui et al., 2007; FAO, 2008; Hare, 2008; Harper, 2012; Kohler-Rollefson, 1991;
Kadwell et al., 2001; Gentry, 2004; ICZN, 2003; Marin et al., 2007; NCBI, 2012; Price, 2005)

Describer (Date): see below (after species name)

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia
             Order: Artiodactyla (a.k.a. Cetartiodactyla*)
                  Family: Camelidae
                       Subfamily: Camelini
                            Genus: Camelus
                                 Species: Camelus bactrianus (Linnaeus 1758) - domestic Bactrian camel
                                 Species: Camelus dromedarius (Linnaeus 1758) - dromedary
                                 Species: Camelus ferus (Prejevalsky [Przewalski] 1879) - wild Bactrian camel
                       Subfamily: Lamini
                            Genus: Vicugna
                                 Species: Vicugna vicugna - vicuña
                                 Species: Vicugna pacos - alpaca
                            Genus: Lama
                                 Species: Lama glama - llama
                                 Species: Lama guanacoe - guanaco

*New anatomical and DNA evidence on the relationship between Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates) and Cetacea (whales and dolphins) recently led to a merging of the two orders into a new group, Cetartiodactyla (Montgelard, 1997; reviewed in Kulemzina, 2009). As of October 2012, experts had not agreed on whether to define Cetartiodactyla as an official taxonomic order that would replace Artiodactyla and Cetacea. Some continue to list camels in the order Artiodactyla (Franklin, 2011) or use the term Cetartiodactyla without defining it as an order (IUCN, 2008).

Taxonomic History and Nomenclature Evolution

(FAO, 2008) (Hare, 2008) (Mix et al., 2002) (Pigiere & Henrotay, 2012) (Tulgat & Schaller, 1992) (Yadamsuren et al., 2004) (Yadamsuren & Dovchindorj, 2005)


Past and current distribution of wild Bactrian camels in Mongolia and China (Schaller, 1998). Click map to enlarge.

Click here for IUCN distribution map

Normal distribution and points of introduction of domestic camels (Wilson, 1998). Click map to enlarge.


Habitat of wild Bactrian camel:

(Franklin, 2011) (Klingel, 1990) (Kohler-Rollefson, 1991) (Wild Camel Protection Foundation)

Body Length: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Tail Length: 20 in (51 cm)

Wild Bactrian Bactrian Dromedary

Southern Silk Road, China
Image credit:
John Hill
via Wikimedia Commons,
some rights reserved

Frankfurt Zoo, Germany
Image credit:
Elinor D
via Wikimedia Commons,
some rights reserved

Tierpark Berlin, Germany
Image credit:
via Wikimedia Commons,
some rights reserved
  • 2 humps: small, pointed, conical
  • 1.7 m (5.6 ft) at shoulder
  • 450 kg (992 lb)
  • Frame: small and lithe relative to domestic Bactrian; laterally compressed (Mongolian name ‘havtagai’ means ‘flat’)
  • Legs: slender, no callosities on knees
  • Feet: narrow
  • Hair: tan or grayish on body; long and dark brown on upper legs, neck, top of humps, tail
  • 2 humps: large, irregularly shaped, may become flaccid and flop to one side in adult
  • 1.8 m (6.0 ft) at shoulder (shorter than dromedaries)
  • 600-1,000 kg (1,320-2,200 lb)
  • Legs: short and stout
  • Feet: broad, 2-toed, cushioned by fat
  • Hair: long and dark; annual molt
  • 1 hump: more elastic than Bactrian, shrinks with age instead of flopping to side
  • 2.0 m (6.5 ft) at shoulder
  • 400-600 kg (880-1,325 lb)
  • Frame: lighter than Bactrian
  • Legs: longer and more slender than Bactrian
  • Hair: short, light-colored


Humps Nostrils Eyes/Eyelids Ears Mouth Physiological Adaptations

(Gauthier-Pilters & Dagg, 1981) (Tulgat & Schaller, 1992) (Bannikov 1976)
Activity Cycle Social Groups

Aggression Communication


Interspecies Interaction (domestic species)

(FAO, 1994) (Bannikov, 1976) (Gauthier-Pilters, 1981) (Wilson, 1998)




(Yagil, 2006) (Bannikov, 1976)




Reproduction Gestation Life Stages

      Infant (< 1 year old)       Juvenile       Adult       Longevity

(Gauthier-Pilters & Dagg, 1981) (Wild Camel Protection Foundation)

(Hare, 2008) (Tulgat & Schaller, 1992) (WRI, 2004)

Population Status Conservation Threats to survival
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© 2009 San Diego Zoo Global. Last major update March 2009; minor update April 2013. Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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