Do Camels Have Webbed Feet? (3 Reasons Why!)

Camels do have webbed feet. Camels’ feet are divided in half and have webbing between their toes. They do not have hooves but soft, padded feet, and a toenail at each toe.

Every camel has 4 legs, and at the end of every leg, there is a broad, large, flat foot. Even though the foot is split in half and has two toes, the toes are not completely separated.

Inside their feet, towards the heel, there is a thick ball of fat. Together with the webbing, it plays a role in reducing the strain on the camel’s body while walking and in reducing the localized pressure under the foot.

do camels have webbed feet

Why Do Camels Have Webbed Feet

Camels might have large and webbed feet to prevent them from sinking into the sand and to allow them to cross great distances without spending a lot of energy. Together with fat padded soles, they stop hot sand from injuring the bottom of a camel’s feet and prevent sand irritation.

1. Less Pressure On The Sand

Because of the webbing between their toes, the split-foot can behave like a single unit, reduce the pressure this big animal places on the ground, and distribute the camel’s weight more evenly on the sand. 

In return, this keeps the animal more firmly on the always-shifting sand of the desert. 

Their large leathery foot pads prevent the camel from sinking too deeply into the soft sand found in dune areas.

However, sand is not the only surface camels can easily walk on. 

The animals can also walk on rough rocky terrain as their soft footpad is used to grip onto rocky and steep inclines. [1]

The bottom pad of each foot is so strong and flexible that a camel walking on hard ground will step on stones that are up to 1.5 inches across (4 cm) without changing its stride. Only if the stones are larger than that, the camel will avoid stepping on them. [2]

This is why camels do not need shoes; their soft feet are good enough.

A study has shown that, when camels walk, the pressure on the front feet is two times higher than the pressure on the back feet.

2. Less Chance Of Irritation

As mentioned before, the foot of a camel is not fully split into two parts as is the case with other animals. 

Together with webbing, this prevents irritation between their toes (imagine getting sand inside and between the fingers of your feet).

One drawback to their webbed and soft feet is their softness. Despite a camel being able to walk on rocky terrain, a serious problem for them is sharp rocks, as they can puncture the soft soles of their feet. This can sometimes result in serious pain or even infection for the camel. 

3. Energy Savings

Camels are masters of saving energy. Because for them, saving energy means saving water. 

That’s why they have long thick legs; that’s why they walk by moving same-sided legs forward at the same time (opposite to horses, for example, that move their legs diagonally when walking); that’s why they have padded feetto use as little energy as possible when crossing the desert

Just remember how tiring it is to walk on a sandy beach in the summer, and the sinking feeling you get from it. Now imagine having to do that every day for 25 to 30+  miles per day (40-50 km) as camels do. 

And most of the time, they aren’t crossing it empty; they are known to be carrying various cargo, some even 600-pounds heavy. Thanks to their long wide and webbed feet, they do not sink and carry their burden with ease.

And if you want to see their feet in person and even ride camels in the USA, here’s a list of camel ride vendors.

Conclusion

And there you go! “Why do camels have webbed feet”, answered in detail. 

Camels do have webbed feet that allow them to spread over a larger area on the ground, prevent them from sinking, and allow them to spend little energy when crossing the hot desert.

Further reading: Does a camel have toes?

We hope you’ve enjoyed the article and learned more about our furry friends.


References

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

[2] Dagg, Anne Innis. “The locomotion of the camel (Camelus dromedarius).” Journal of Zoology 174.1 (1974): 67-78.

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