Ethology

April 8, 2014

The most common social behavior of the dromedary camel is for use in its adaptive behavior. Individual camels will congregate in large groups in order to regulate body temperature. During the summer, dromedaries gather in groups of about 20 camels so they can rest close together in order to cool off by reflecting the heat reflecting off the ground (http://www.ultimateungulate.com/artiodactyla/camelus_dromedarius.html). The leader of such groups is typically a male, though females sometimes lead as well. Males tend to form all male groups, or travel alone.

Source: http://www.dahabiyya.com/multimedia.asp

 

Camels traveling in groups will walk in a single file line, which leads to the use of the camel in what is known as a camel train, which is the use of a large number of camels traveling in a line to transport goods from one point to another (Red Orbit). Dromedary camels are not territorial, and these groups form larger herds that can number in the hundreds. There is not usually aggression in these herds with the exception of mating season, when they tend to bite and kick in defense of the females within the smaller groups. The mating season for dromedaries is in the winter. During this season, the male dromedaries will spread urine down their backs with their tails, and their mouths foam as the glandular sac is released. Males fight to attract a mate by attempting to stand higher than other males. Ultimately, the male camels are attempting to establish dominance over the females, and they do so by forcing the female to sit, often with humans aiding the breeding process. The gestation period for dromedaries is about fifteen months, and calves are born that is able to walk and nurse after only a day. Calves will stay with their mothers for about two years. Source: http://mkalty.org/camels/

Dromedaries have been known to display some strange social behaviors. They tend to bite other camels and sometimes humans without using teeth. Camels will also stamp their feet and sprint short bursts when they’re angry, and will spit cud when they’re excited or injured (http://www.redorbit.com/education/reference_library/animal_kingdom/mammalia/1112681451/dromedary-camel-camelus-dromedarius/). In fact, camels also spit as a means of establishing hierarchy, often times while feeding, to let lower-ranking members of the herd understand their place. This spit has a very powerful odor. Females can also spit to chase away overly persistent males, however it doesn’t smell as foul as the males’ spit (softpedia). Camels tend to vocalize with a bleat that’s used to find individuals outside of the groups, and also the gurgling sounds created by males during breeding. Occasionally, male camels will make a whistling noise used to threaten by grinding their teeth (Ultimate Ungulate). Take a look at this unhappy camel.

 

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