Do Camels Have Long Eyelashes? (2 Big Reasons Why!)

Just like most mammals, camels do have eyelashes. Their double-layered eyelashes are long and thick, angled downward, and almost parallel to the surface of the eye. They are made mostly of keratin which allows the hairs to turn, bend and fold without breaking.

Perfect for windy conditions camels live in.

do camels have long eyelashes

Why Do Camels Have Long Eyelashes?

Together with a nictitating membrane, camel’s eyelashes protect the eye from the sun and the sand. They work as a barrier from particles that are flying around. Also, camel’s long lashes prevent different allergens from getting inside the eye.

It was long believed that the only way of eye protection from particles like pollen, animal dander, dust mites, or droplets, was a thin layer of oil, mucus, and water on top of the eye. That system has the role of hydrating and lubricating the eye and wiping out the particles that reached it. [1

However, eyelashes play an important role too. They protect the eye by catching dust and particles that are falling from above and diver the airflow to prevent the eyes from drying. Some suggest that lashes have a sensory role, while others claim that they prevent infections and allergens from getting into the eye.

It was shown in one study that children with allergies have 10% longer and denser lashes than those without. They concluded that as a response to allergens, they grew longer eyelashes.

And according to the American Optometric Association, the condition of madarosis, or the lack of eyelashes or eyebrows, correlated with higher rates of eye infections.

More than a few reasons why camels have adapted their eyelashes to be long and thick.

The length of a camel’s lashes determines how much its eye would dry, as one study has shown.

How Long Are Camel Eyelashes? 

Camels have some of the longest eyelashes in the animal world. Camel eyelashes length is usually one-third of their eye width. It can vary between 1.2 and 2 inches depending on the species; some claim that they can grow up to 3.9 inches (10cm).

The eyelashes on the upper eyelid are coarse and longer than the ones on the bottom one. The longest eyelashes of the upper eyelid were mostly located in its middle parts, while the longes eyelashes of the lower eyelid were in the middle third. [2

A breed of Bactrian camels from China, the Nanjiang camels, live close to the Taklimakan Desert. The area there has a lot of sunlight, little rain, strong winds, and plenty of sand. 

To survive the conditions there, camels have several characteristics:

Nanjiang Bactrian camels have between 1.2 and 2 inches long eyelashes (3–5-cm). Their eyelash length is determined by the duration of their hair follicle growth period. [3

Camel Eyelashes Vs Human Eyelashes Length

The average length of human lashes is around 0.4 inches. Compared to humans, camels have a lot longer eyelashes, almost 5 times longer.

However, the world record for the longest eyelashes in humans is held by Ms. You Jianxia of Shangai – her lashes are 8 inches long (20.5 cm)! [4]

Ms. You can proudly say that she has longer eyelashes than our furry camelid friends.

SpeciesEyelashes length
Humans0.4 inches
Camels2 inches
human and camel eyelashes length

It is important to note that bigger isn’t always better. At least when it comes to lashes. 

A study from 2015 discovered that the optimal length of the eyelashes is around 1/3 of the eye width. 

If the eyes have too long lashes, they will start to channel more air in the eyes. This would make the eye dry out faster, more particles would get into the eye, and the animal would need to blink more. 

When eyelashes are shorter than 1/3, they have only a small effect on the airflow.

So they concluded that one-third is the happy ground for eyelashes length.

It is important to note that in the study they “flattened” the eye to measure it and do the calculations. In reality, eyes have curved surfaces, three dimensions, non-circular openings, and different eyelashes sizes.

Final Thoughts

This concludes our article on the question “why do camels have long eyelashes”, and how the eyelashes help the animal. 

Camels usually walk in herds. Even when there is no wind, they will just kick up the dust that could easily end up inside their bodies. That’s when their lashes come in handy.

Camels do have eyelashes. Eyelashes are hairs that grow at the edge of the animal’s eyelids and protect the eye from debris, dust, and other particles. Camel’s double row of eyelashes is made mostly of keratin. They can grow from 1.2 up to 3.9 inches long. The ideal lash length should be one-third the width of the eye. Camels have longer eyelashes than humans.

Their big and elongated lashes, bushy and wooly eyebrows, and specialized eyelids protect the eye from different particles, eye moisture evaporation, and help it survive harsh conditions of the desert.

Further reading: Facts about camel lashes

Their tears also contain a lot of minerals and vitamins that help the animal avoid eye dryness.

We hope you found it informative and interesting.


References

[1] Amador, Guillermo J., et al. “Eyelashes divert airflow to protect the eye.” Journal of the Royal Society Interface 12.105 (2015): 20141294.

[2] Rahmoun, Djallal Eddine, et al. “Anatomical and histological characteristics of the dromedary eye (Camelus dromedarius).” Theoretical and Applied Veterinary Medicine 8.2 (2020).

[3] Liu, Chenmiao, et al. “Exploring the genomic resources of seven domestic Bactrian camel populations in China through restriction site-associated DNA sequencing.” PloS one 16.4 (2021): e0250168.

[4] Guinness World Records, www.guinnessworldrecords.com

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