Anatomy of the Digestive Tract

The Mouth and Upper Throat

Camels have a prehensile and split upper lip which is used for selectively grasping plant parts. The lower lip is large and pendulous. The upper dental pad is hard and hornlike in texture. The membrane of the inner cheek is covered with conical papillae which point backwards. The hard palate is long and the soft palate (<<dula’*>) is extensible d is often protruded from the mouth, particularly in the rutting male. The tongue is small but very mobile and has five. To seven papillae of large diameter along each side. Dentition differs from that of the true ruminants in that there are incisors in the upper jaw and both upper and lower jaws have canine teeth (cactuses,). The salivary glands are similar to those of other ruminating animals.

Pharynx and Oesophagus

The pharynx is a long and narrow tube whit a constriction partly dividing it into two chambers. The oesophagus is 1-2 m. long and of large capacity: it has secreting glands which apparently function to moisturize the food.


The camelids have only three distinct chambers in the stomach. They differ from the Ruminant in gross anatomy in that there is no clear distinction between the third and fourth chambers. Although it is conventional to refer to the different parts of the camel stomach by the same terminology as used for true ruminants, it is not certain that the parts which perform analogous functions are truly homologous. The <<glandular sac>> aorfe tahse rumen, once considered to be the water store of the camel, consist of a number of

Small chambers separated by folds of mucosa. The mucosa is covered by a columnar epithelium which has up to 100 million short tubular glands. Similar areas are found in the reticulum and the omasum. These glands probably act as absorption and fermentation areas, as well as areas of

Secretion of enzymes. The stomach of true ruminants does not have analogous mucosa. The rumen essentially performs the same functions as in the Ruminant and its contents are normally equivalent to 11 to 15 per cent of total body weight. In tylopods the oesophagus enters directly into the

Rumen while in ruminants it joins the stomach between the rumen and the reticulum. The ruminant reticulum has a honeycomb-like appearance while that of tylopods is of glandular sac appearance.


The small intestine is about 40 m. in length in a full grown one-humped camel. A common duct from the pancreas and the liver opens into the looped duodenum. The jejunum is large and occupies most of the abdomen. There

Is a chain of mesenteric lymph nodes along the jejunum? The lymph nodes of the ileum are associated with those of the large intestine. The large intestine is about 20 m. in length in the dromedary and has a blind caecum attached to the mesentery. The colon is of large diameter over about 4 m of its length and is situated on the left side of the abdomen in a large mesenteric fold. The site of much water resorption is where the colon narrows. The lymph supply of the large intestine is concentrated at the entry and near the terminal part where the colon becomes the rectum.

Liver, Pancreas and Spleen

The liver is markedly lobulated with much interlobular tissue. There is no gall bladder. The bile duct is common with the pancreatic duct as it enters the duodenum. The spleen is not attached to the diaphragm but high to the left side of the rumen. The peritoneum is similar to that of cattle.