Camels are members of the pseudo-ruminant family.
That means their stomach consists of 3 chambers that are used for food processing and digestion.
Camels are also herbivores. That means they feed on plants.
And it is perfectly normal to see a camel eating grass, grains, leaves, seeds, and similar plants.
But, when it comes to camels eating meat, the situation gets quite interesting.
In this article, we will answer the question “do camels eat meat”.
Do Camels Eat Meat?
Camels aren’t completely vegetarian and do eat meat. When there is not enough food available, a camel will consume meat, bones, animal skin, and even fish.
An important distinction needs to be made here regarding herbivores.
Herbivores aren’t animals that only eat plants and nothing else.
Herbivores are animals that are physically adapted to eating plants, but that does not mean that they can’t eat meat.
And if you look closely at nature, you will find a huge percentage of herbivores eating meat, and a huge percentage of carnivores eating plants.
However, that doesn’t mean that you will find a camel regularly feeding on meat instead of plants.
Why Do Camels Eat Meat?
Camels mostly eat meat when the available food becomes scarce, when they are starving, and are forced to feed on animal meat, bones, and carrion. Some camels will occasionally eat meat because they seem to enjoy it.
Let’s explain that in more detail.
1. Lack Of Available Food
Camels have specialized teeth for grinding plants, a long digestive tract, and a multi-chambered stomach specialized for extracting as many nutritional elements from those plants as possible.
And because camels usually live in some of the driest places in the world, not too many plants are to be found around.
That forced camels to adapt to those habitats as best as they could.
For example, they would eat some plants with extremely low nutritional value. Ones that other animals would simply reject.
It is a similar story when it comes to meat.
If there aren’t enough plants to be found, if a camel can not get enough nutritional value from the available ones, in case of a famine, or if it seems like an easy meal, it can resort to eating meat.
An important thing to notice here is that a camel will not go and start preying on other animals to get to their meat.
Camels are actually preyed on by other animals, not vice versa.
So most of the meat, bones, and skin they will eat will be from rotten corpses they stumble upon in the desert – they will not go actively hunt other animals.
A limiting factor to camels regularly feeding on meat, however, is their physiology.
Their teeth are not the best-suited for penetrating the meat and breaking it into tiny structures for easier digestion.
That doesn’t mean camel’s teeth are a joke! They have a strong jaw and teeth that can even break the wood.
We have a fun article about camel teeth facts; make sure to check it out.
2. They Might Enjoy Meat
This reason is possible but highly unlikely.
In the animal kingdom, there are instances when a herbivore would eat meat occasionally just because they seem to enjoy it.
Also, some carnivorous animals will go and actively feed on plants, rather than meat (think of pandas).
So this might be the case here: Camels might occasionally eat meat because they enjoy the taste.
Sometimes, camels are forced to eat meat, that is, snakes. An old Arab tradition says that is one deadly camel disease that can only be treated by a camel eating a snake. Read more about it by clicking here.
Why Camels Do Not Eat Meat Often
Camels will not eat meat that often because it is not their main food group, and because they wouldn’t receive too many nutritional benefits from it. Also, switching to an all-meat diet could lead to the potential death of the animal.
If you ever had a pet, you’d know that you couldn’t feed it with just any food.
There were foods the animal could eat, and some that were bad for it.
And not all animals are adapted to eating all food groups all the time.
Because meat is nutritionally denser, a camel wouldn’t benefit too much from it.
A camel does not have well-suited enzymes to break down the food and properly absorb vitamins and minerals.
Too much meat for a camel could lead to serious health issues that could result in death.
That’s why eating meat is not a part of the normal feeding patterns of a camel. It will only resort to it if no other options are available.
To conclude: camels can eat meat, but will only resort to it in case of emergency when they are starving.
If there is no other food available, a camel might eat some dead carcass it encounters on the road.
Because of their stomach physiology, camels are mostly benefiting from eating plant-based foods, and not meat.
This does not mean that they can not digest meat, it just means they can’t do it well.
Further reading: Deadly camel farts