The Camelidae family is a comparatively small family of mammalian animals. There are two members of Old World camels living in Africa and Asia–the Arabian and the Bactrian. There are four members of the New World camels of South America–llamas, vicunas, alpacas and guanacos. They are all very well adapted to their respective environments. Most of these species have been integrated into and play very important roles in lives of the indigenous people. They have been traditionally used for transport of people and things, to supply hides and fibers for clothing, other textile articles, and meat and milk products. The animals have been used and bred for several thousand years, but the efforts to understand their biology and diseases in greater depth has been only been done fairly recently. Because camels are still such important animals in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, there has been more interest and need to understand their nutrition and health care needs, reproduction, behavior, physiology, diseases, veterinary care and responses to new climates. This bibliography has been compiled to address these issues. Camels are large-hooved mammals living in the desert regions of North America and Asia. There are two types of camels in existence today: the Dromedary or Arabian camel and the Bacterian camel. The Dromedary or Arabian camel has one hump on its back and the Bacterian camel has two humps. The humps on a camel’s back store fat and flesh that is absorbed as nutrition while food is not available. The camel is known for being able to go without water for several days at a time. The hump in the Arabian camel rises to about twelve inches above the back, and the camel can stand about seven feet tall at the shoulders. The Bacterian camel is about five feet tall to the shoulders and usually has a heavier body. These camels have been around since the ancient times.

Arabian camels are found from Northwest India and the lowland of Afghanistan to the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia to the South and Westward African deserts. There are approximately 25,000 wild camels that still remain since their introduction in 1840 to 1907. Arabian camels survive in the desert due to the structure and qualities. They have the ability to bite off and eat the thorny plants that exist in the desert. The thick callouses on their knees and chest and the thick sole pads allow them to cope with the hot sand. The eyes are covered by really long eyelashes.

The rocky and cooler regions are better for the Bacterian camel, due to its smaller, heavier build. The feet are split and its hair is finer and longer. Central Asia and Mongolia are the central areas of the Bacterian camels, and there are fewer than 1,000 Bacterian camels in the wild. The continuing existence of the Bacterian camel is remarkable since it has to endure such different climate changes, like 140 degrees Fahrenheit, to the Arctic cold in the winter.

The camel’s strength is very remarkable and makes it a very valuable animal. The Bacterian camel can carry as much as 1,000 pounds and travel about 29 miles a day. The Arabian camel can travel as far as 100 miles a day and is usually used as a saddle animal. The camel hide is usually used for leather, and the milk and fat are usually used as food. After their hair is shed, it can be used for paintbrushes, warm clothes, and ropes.


Camelidae Family

The Camelidae evolved in North America. Their ancestors migrated from North America across the Alaskan land bridge to Asia and down across Panama into South America. They eventually became extinct in North America, but adapted well and evolved to their current forms. At one time the camels ranged from Asia to Eastern Europe. After crossing into Africa, they were found across the northern area and as far south as northern Tanzania.


Camels are in the taxonomic order Artiodactyla (even toed ungulates), sub order Tylopoda (pad-footed), and Family Camlidae. They are ruminants along with the giraffes, deer, cattle, sheep, goats and antelopes. They have several unique features: they walk on pads not hoofs, do not have horns or antlers, and their red blood cells are oval in shape. They also have very high red blood cell counts. All the family members have great water efficiency, long necks, two toes, and well-padded feet. Finally, a camel’s toes have a web connecting them.

The New World camels include two wild species in the high Andes of South America. They are the vicuna (Lama vicugna) and the guanaco (Lama guanacoe). The native people of the Andes domesticated the llama (Lama glama) and the alpaca (Lama pacos). There seems to be some controversy over the parent species of the alpaca and llama. The evidence suggests that both domestic species were derived from the guanaco. They all have long necks, but no humps. They do have the ability to survive in harsh dry climates due to their ability to conserve their body water.