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Do Camels Cry? – What The Science Says

Have you ever been sitting in your bed, watching cute animal pics on Facebook, and suddenly got hit by a question: wait, do camels cry?!

Well, today is your lucky day, as we will be explaining can these mammalians shed tears, or if something else is at hand.

Read on! 

do camels cry tears

Key Points

  • Camels can feel emotions, like happiness and fear.
  • Modern scientists argue that camels cry for eye lubrication, not emotions.
  • Camels’ tears have a unique composition that benefits their eye health.

Are Camels Emotional?

First, we need to clarify something else: whether camels feel emotions and, if so, whether they are emotional.

There are two ways of looking at that:

  •  the scientific 
  •  the less scientific 

The scientific means checking the opinions of camel scientists, biologists, and other highly educated people who are examining camel characteristics, psychology, and behavior.

The less scientific one refers to people’s (subjective) experiences with camels, people like zookeepers and pet owners. 

And both of them seem to agree on one point but disagree on the other.

Scientists and camel owners agree that camels feel emotions. Camels are known to display feelings of happiness, fear, anger, love, and many others.

For example, camels are mostly timid creatures. 

When they are feeling happy, you can see them jumping around, waving their tails, and similar.

However, when they feel mistreated, they might show emotions of fear and aggression. 

They might kick, growl, spit and even bite. 

Make sure to check our article on camels being mean, and read more about their aggressive behaviors.

There is a movie from 2003, called The Story Of The Weeping Camel, where a mother rejects her calf. 

She will not allow the calf to approach her teats and get milk.

The baby can be seen expressing distress and trying to win the affection of its mother.

And at some point in the movie, the mother camel even starts to weep, with tears coming out of her eyes, as she finally accepts her newborn.

But are those tears of emotion?

Do Camels Cry Tears When Sad?

Most scientists and pet owners agree that animals do feel emotions. However, modern scientists claim that animals do not cry to express feelings. They only cry to lubricate their eyes.

You will find many animal owners claiming that their furry companions feel emotions and that they can cry when they are sad or upset. 

In the past few years, there was a video circulating the internet of a dog weeping and crying at his owner’s grave. People were sharing it, claiming that he was crying because he had just lost the owner and felt overwhelmed by the sadness of the event.

It turned out, however, that the dog had some respiratory disease that was making him react that way. 

Darwin even claimed that some animals like monkeys and elephants wept as well. 

He was observing macaque monkeys in London Zoo and claimed that they wept emotionally and said that Indian elephants wept in grief when feeling distressed or dying.

Modern scientists, sadly, do disagree with both of them. They believe that humans are the only “animal” that tears up when feeling sad. 

Bryan Amaral, the senior curator of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, claims that if crying is seen as an expression of joy or grief, then we are the only ones that do so, and obviously, camels are not.

It is well known that camels usually inhabit regions with lots of winds and particles flying around. 

That same wind will dry the animal’s eye faster, so it is necessary for the animal to consistently lubricate it. 

That’s where the camel’s lacrimal glands come in handy. 

They will continually release lacrimal secretions known as tears that clean and protect the eye’s surface while lubricating and moistening it at the same time. 

A study was done recently comparing camel’s tears, human tears, and Refresh Plus eye lubricant. 

What they discovered was that camel tears displayed a better quality than human tears and Refresh Plus lubricant. Camel tears had higher quality and quantity of minerals and lubricants, that help the animal avoid eye dryness.

Some scientists even claim that doctors will use camel tears to treat different eye diseases in humans.

They have noticed that the animal rarely has eye illnesses, and they speculate it is because of the chemical composition of its tears.

Final Thoughts

From a biological perspective, there are 3 types of tears:

  • Basal tears – used for cleaning and lubrication of eyes
  • Reflex tears – the result of external stimulus (wind, smoke, eye injury, etc.)
  • Emotional tears – reserved for occasions when being overjoyed with emotions (weddings, graduations, sad movies, when arguing, etc.)

Scientists and zoologists agree that camels feel different emotions, but that they will only cry basal and reflex tears to moisten and lubricate their eyes. Emotional tears are only reserved for humans, as we are the only animal that can express feelings through tears.

So next time you see an animal shedding tears, you might want to take it to the vet to check if it has some infection or eye injury.

This concludes our article about camels crying. We hope you found it interesting and informative, and that you learned a bit about camel psychology.

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