5 Interesting Facts About Camel Hooves

First things first, to clear something up: Camels do not have hooves. Camels have big and long padded feet that look like hooves. Their feet consist of 2 toes and webbing between them. 

With that out of the way, here are some camel hooves facts/camel feet facts.

camel hooves facts

Camel Hooves Facts

1. First Camels Had Hooves, Not Padded Feet

First camels appeared in North America, about 45 million years ago. They were very small, rabbit-sized, and walked on four feet that had hooves.

As the camelids evolved, they became bigger and heavier, lost their side toes, and developed long legs and padded feet. Such legs and wide feet instead of hooves allowed them to spend less energy while crossing big distances in pursuit of their next meal. 

2. Camels Have 2 Toes On Each Foot

Today’s camels have two toes on each foot, and at the tip of each of those toes, there is a small nail that resembles a hoof. 

Camels are even-toed ungulates – this means they carry their weight equally on two toes: the third and fourth. Between those two toes, there is an interdigital cleft (notch), and at the tips of the toes, there are nails around 1.5 inches wide (4 cm) and 2 inches long (5 cm). [1]

By walking on the tips of their toes, camels can spend less energy while walking, move faster and more silently.

3. Camels Also Have Webbed Feet

Between the even-sized toes on their feet, there are webbings. Camel’s webbed feet prevent the animal from sinking into the grainy and shifting desert sand and allow it to walk more easily there.

Their split feet that are joined underneath by webbing can behave like a single unit, reduce the pressure on the ground, and distribute the camels’ weight evenly on the sand.

4. Camels Have Paddings On Their Feet

Instead of keratinous hooves, at the bottom of the camel’s feet, there are big leathery sole pads around 7.5 inches long and 5.5  inches wide (19 by 14 cm). These fatty cushions cover the bony parts of the back and front legs.

Together with the webbing, their padded feet allow the camels to walk on hot sand without getting injured and prevent possible sand irritation to the feet.

Because of their fatty structure, camel’s paddings decrease the pressure and stress on the animal’s legs and body from walking. When a camel moves its leg forward, its foot hits the ground. That hit sends a stress wave back up, to the knee and the rest of the body. 

Thanks to their soft footpad, those pressures are massively reduced, and wear and tear from walking is decreased. 

5. When Camels Start Walking Faster, Bottom Of Their Feet Stretches

Camel’s foot pads consist of a collagenous outer layer that is filled with a gel-like tissue that is threaded with elastic fibers. When a camel starts running, its foot fibers will stretch, increasing the contact area of the foot with the ground. Similar to what running shoes do to humans when running, camel’s elastic foot pads reduce the shockwave and pressures of the locomotion. [2]

After the animal is done running, these elastic cushions will go back to their previous shape. 

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, 5 facts about camel hooves or better to say 5 facts about camel feet.

First camels had hooves, but modern camels do not. Instead, they have wide splay-toed feet, webbing between their toes, and broad foot pads. At the tip of the toe, there is a nail that resembles a hoof. Such feet prevent camels from sinking in the sand.

Further reading: Number of legs camels have


References

[1] Badawy, Adel M. “Computed Tomographic anatomy of the fore foot in one-humped camel (Camelus dromedrus).” Global veterinaria 6.4 (2011): 417-423.

[2] Clemente, Christofer J., et al. “Biomechanical insights into the role of foot pads during locomotion in camelid species.” Scientific reports 10.1 (2020): 1-12.

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