Camels are immediately identified and recognized by the humps they carry on their backs, since its only camels that have them, but why do camels have humps in the first place and what’s in them?
It’s often a widely circulated notion that the humps of camels store water, as they are desert dwellers and sometimes have to go through long periods of time without drinking any water. However, this isn’t the case, as camels’ humps are in actual fact full of fat, yes! The humps of all camels are filled with fatty tissues that act as energy reserves for when they need it.
There exist two main types of camels, namely the dromedary or Arabian camel that only have one hump on their backs, and the other type of camel which originates from Asia is the Bactrian camel with two humps.
The humps of these camels can weigh as much as 35 kilograms in weight, and are there to allow camels to survive in their natural desert habitats. The humps are designed to let these animals go without food or water for extended periods of time. Such an adaptation to their environment is essential, as it can often be hard to find food and water in the desert.
In fact, baby camels don’t have humps until they start eating solid foods instead of their mother’s milk. When camels are in need of energy, and they haven’t eaten, they will use their humps. The fatty deposits are broken down and converted into energy as well as water for the camels when they need it. As the fatty reserves not only produce energy, but water as well, one kilogram of fat can be broken down to yield one kilogram of water.
When camels use the fat from their humps, their humps will shrink and often roll to one side or the other as a result. After the camel has eaten and taken some rest, the hump or humps will then be restored to their upright position.
Even if camels have enough to eat, like they often do in places of captivity like zoos and the like, they will still have their humps since it’s a part of their internal system and how their body functions.
Camels have humps which are filled with fat deposits and are a part of the way camels function. The storing of fat in the humps is much more efficient and productive than if they were to store water in them since the fat provides both energy and water.
As camels naturally live in the desert, food and water is often scarce and the humps allow the camel to survive without having to drink or eat for extended periods of time. Whenever the camels use the energy and water which are results of the conversion of their fat stores, their humps shrink and slant to one side. They then have to eat food and rest for their humps to return to their filled and upright position.