Why do camels have humps?

+61 votes
asked May 12, 2015 in Pets & Animals by Mackenzie (670 points)
I have often stared at camels in amazement wondering what the heck those humps are all about. Are they really walking around all day long in the dessert with humps full of water? There must be a reason that camels have humps. Then what is it?

2 Answers

+15 votes
answered May 21, 2015 by treena (1,100 points)
Have you ever wondered why camels have humps on their back? Often times it’s assumed and widely believed that a camel has a hump on its back because it’s carrying extra water. While this notion makes sense to most because they are walking around in the desert all day, the reality is that hump that you see on a camels back is actually fat storage.

A typical camel can carry up to 80 pounds worth of fat on its back at a time. The hump is actually storing emergency food so that when a camel is wondering around in the desert it won’t starve to death. Even more interesting is that when a camel has to use the emergency fat storage it shrinks and falls to one side, almost as if it has been deflated. Once a camel has had a good night’s rest and found proper nutrition, the hump will restore itself back to the appropriate position.
+4 votes
answered May 22, 2015 by Travis (970 points)
edited Aug 24, 2015 by Kris
It is widely believe that camels have humps because it is storing a lot of extra water for its long trips through the desert. With such harsh climates and barely any water in the desert this isn’t a hard theory to believe.

However, the answer to why do camels have humps is even more interesting than the water theory. That hump is actually a mound of fat used to help replace food when a camel is in an emergency situation.

There are also different types of camels. You have camels with one hump and camels with two humps. If a camel is sporting two humps they are usually native to a region that has excessive amounts of heat in the summer and harsh winters. The extra fat reserve is in place to help with both of these types of harsh conditions. The size of the hump on a camel is often indicative to the location that they live as well. The more hot the climate, the more fat a camel will typically store. If you see a camel with a droopy hump that means that it has used the fat reserve in it’s body and will need to replenish it will a good night sleep before it will go back to its upright position.
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