Fantastic camel facts are actually very easy to come by because these are truly amazing animals. Before I walked across Morocco and the Sahara with Hamish (above) and the gang I could take or leave a camel. But after 7 ½ months at close quarters, I came to love them and all their strange and fascinating ways. I say camels but I do actually mean the one-humped variety – ie dromedaries.
I learnt these rather fantastic camel facts through observation or by asking Brahim and Addi. We were speaking in Arabic and Tashlaheet so I hope there aren’t any comedy errors of translation.
- Camels love orange peel. It is their truffles or caviar, or in my case cherry liqueur chocolates. I once made the mistake of taking a whole dozen of halved and squeezed oranges out to them when they were grazing. 6 male camels mobbed me and I had to take to my heels and throw out the peel behind me as I fled.
- They get blisters just like us. However, the treatment is very daunting. You have to cauterize the area with a burning hot iron and some animal fat. Hector suffered from them during the Draa Expedition and I made a little film about it here.
- Males have a mating season and when they are in heat, between November and February, their stomachs actually shrink so that they don’t have to graze as much and can concentrate on chasing the females. They also become more aggressive – testosterone is real, folks! We had to separate our boys in camp or they would fight each other for supremacy.
- Camel aftershave consists of pee. The boys spread their legs, wee and then whisk it up onto their backs using their tails which rotate like little helicopters. Apparently irresistible to the ladies.
- They recognise humans and can form close bonds with them. Callum and Addi were inseparable and I think this saved all of us when we hit quicksand one fateful morning.
- They have a fantastic sense of smell.
- They can be really sneaky. Hamish, my favourite, would wait until Addi and Brahim were in the mess tent before he tiptoed out of camp and then galloped off in search of love.
- And finally, how does a camel scratch his back? Turns out the hump is not a problem…
For the full story of Hamish and the gang on our epic adventure across Morocco and the Sahara, check out Walking with Nomads.