If you’ve ever seen a camel live or even in a photo, you must have noticed thick hair covering its body.
Now, having hair in the ears can help a camel stop sand from getting inside its body.
But what about other parts of the body?
And why do camels have thick fur on some parts of the body, but not on others?
Before we answer this and other questions, let’s define several things first.
First, this article will be only about the fur of Camelus, the Dromedary, Bactrian, and Wild Bactrian camel.
Second, camel fur and camel wool will be used with the same meaning: a thick growth of hair covering the skin of a camel.
And yes, camels do have thick fur. But the density is not the same on the whole body.
Why Do Camels Have Thick Wool On Their Back?
The Old World Camels, or just Camelus, mostly inhabit the regions of the Middle East, the Sahara, Central Asia, Mongolia, China, and Australia.
The climate in some of those regions can be actually harsh.
For example, when you think of the Sahara, where you will mostly find Dromedary camels, images of hot blazing sun scorching the yellow sand might first come to mind.
However, during the night, the temperature situation can drastically change.
Temperature can go down to -3.9°C (about 25°F).
That’s where the thick fur comes in handy.
Camels have thick wool on their back to protect them from freezing desert temperatures during the night, and to protect their skin from burning during the hot days.
Bactrian camels, in particular, need thick fur. Winters in their habitats can get extremely cold, so having an extra layer of insulation can prove to be very useful.
How Thick Is A Camel’s Fur?
According to scientists from the University of Bahri, dromedary camel fur consists of 2 parts:
- The harsh outer hair
- The fine inner hair
The outer fibers are up to 14.9 inches long (37.5cm), while the inner fine hair is between 0.9 inches and 4.9 inches long (2.5cm to 12.5cm) in the abdominal region of the animal.
According to the same scientists, the outer hair is almost 3 times thicker than the inside one. Its diameter varies between 20 and 120 microns, while the inner hair diameter goes between 19 and 24 microns.
As a comparison, human hair is between 50 and 70 microns thick.
Such thick and long hair provides excellent cushioning for the camel from the sun and helps preserve more water.
The light color of the camel’s hair reflects sun rays and the individual fur follicles prevent heat from reaching the animal’s skin. That heat is not transferred to the animal and does not get to raise its body temperature. As a result, less water is spent on trying to cool down.
The temperature difference between the outer hair and the inner hair of the animal can go up to 54 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).
And at the end of the winter, a camel will shed the wool by rubbing itself against trees and bushes.
If the camel is in a zoo, shedding wool by zoologists and visitors has proven to be a great way for bonding with the creature.
What Color Is Camel Fur?
When it comes to the color of the camel’s fur, it is mostly reddish-brown, but colors can range from brown to grey. White-colored camel wool is extremely highly valued but very hard to find.
In Ethiopia, for example, a study on camel production found different hair colors in camels from different places:
- Jijiga camel had mostly brown, medium-sized hair
- Hoor camel had brown to red and yellowish-white hair that was short
- Gelleb camel had mostly brown and red fur color
- Amibara camel was with short, brown to grey fur color
- Mille camel had red to brown color and short hair length
- Liben camel was black, brown, red, and white
- Shinille camel had grey and brown fur color
We have a complete article on the color of camels, including color milk, and tongue color.
Why Do Camels Have Thin Hair On Their Tummy?
If they have thick fur to help them cope with the cold nights and sunny days, why do camels have thin hair on their stomach then?
There are several reasons for it.
During the day, the thick, usually light-colored fur on top of the camel serves as a reflection and protection from the sun, but also for water conservation, as previously explained.
Camel’s tummy is less exposed to the warm sun during the day, which allowed more blood vessels to be near the bottom part of the skin. This has helped camels sweat better and ultimately regulate and keep their body temperature right.
During the night, as temperatures drop below 0 degrees, you will find camels sleeping, making their stomach less exposed to the cold weather.
So, better temperature regulation, easier heat loss during hot weather, and lesser exposure to brisk weather when it’s cold, are the main reasons why camels have thin hair on their tummy.
Further reading: Why Do Camels Sweat And Pee Very Little?
Why Do Camels Have Shaggy Fur?
Camels have shaggy fur because it allows them to be better adapted to different climate conditions. Thick, shaggy fur helps camels handle the freezing weather conditions, especially during winter in areas they live.
As the temperatures begin to raise, the camel drops its furry coat and replaces it with thinner, shorter hair.
Camel Fur Facts
For the end of this article, here are a few camel fur facts.
- Camels have thick fur on top of their back and thinner on their stomach
- Thick fur allows them to regulate temperature better and survive in extreme hot and cold weathers
- Camel fur can grow to be 19 inches long to help them during the winter season
- Camel fur color can be brown, yellow, reddish and go to grey and even white color
- White-colored camel wool is found to be extremely rare and expensive
- Between 2 and 6.6 pounds of hair a camel will shed in a year (1 to 3kg)
- Camel’s hair is used for making ropes, bags, blankets, carpets, clothes, etc.